Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.

I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the star-shine of the night.

I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

–Indian Prayer

Image: carydunn via flickr

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I typed it. There, at the very bottom of page 226.

I’ve saved a copy to my hard drive, to my thumb drive, and I’ve attached a copy to myself in an email. You can never be too careful with 226-pages, over 73,000+ words, & what amounts to more than a year of your life.

That’s it. I’m letting it go. This draft is what it is. Is the ending perfect? No. But I think I’m ready to start over and see how it ends in my 2nd draft.

This is a truly weird feeling. I can’t quite describe how this feels. I know this is a major accomplishment, but honestly, it just feels weird & a little anticlimactic. I think in a lot of ways my mind is already on draft #2. Before I even sat down to write the last page tonight, I was making character notes for draft #2. I guess I just finally caught up with myself.

So, taking a few days off to absorb, reflect, and mentally prepare for draft #2. Then will get going again.

The new goal: 2nd draft completed by December 31st.

——-

Ok, just realized that for more than the last hour I’ve been listening to the same song on repeat. Earlier tonight I had a certain song on repeat, but I had stopped that song & thougt I was listening to a whole album. But no. Apparently, I’ve been so spaced & dazed with all this that I’ve been listening to the same song over & over & over & over again. It’s time for bed.

Mood: Unsure

Currently listening to: Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event (on repeat)

Still sitting here, rereading my last scene, trying to figure out if I’m at the end.

So, when in doubt, & since I’m in doubt, turn to the craft books.

#1: Plot & Structure: Techniques & Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell

According to Bell, there are 3 basic endings:

“…(1) the Lead gets his objective, a positive ending; (2) we don’t know if the Lead will get his desire, an ambiguous ending; and (3) the Lead loses his objective, a negative ending.”

At this point my ending would fall under #2. And for an ambiguous ending, he recommends that for it to be good it “causes strong feeling, feels right, and can generate discussion.” I think my current “ending” meets the 2nd & 3rd criteria. As for the 1st, not sure. I think it does. At least for me.

Bell also recommends that as your near the end of your first draft, you should stop and think up 10 alternate endings. Yikes. 10? Well, maybe if I’m still hesitating tomorrow. I guess I’ve already come up with 2. The one I thought I was going to write & the one I just did. Not sure where I would get 8 more. I’ll give this exercise some thought. Definitely a good idea for the 2nd draft.

#2: Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich

Novakovich writes:

“Give us another look, or angle, or thought, on what has just taken place in your fiction, something that will put it all in perspective.”

I think I’ve done that. He goes on to add:

“When you are about to end a piece, decide which image or thought you want your reader to carry as the last impression…. endings with striking sensory images are often preferable to abstract ones.”

Hmmm…I agree with this. I think I have done this to a certain degree, but I could definitely do more with the sensory image. It’s somewhat there, but could definitely be filled out, beefed up. He also recommends that the writer end while the action is still going on. I would say I’ve done that. My MC has come to an emotional epiphany, but there is still much action going on around her.

Novakovich elaborates on this further when he talks about the Open Ending and how a successful example of this “answers some psychological questions and yet leaves off without resolving the action.” It lets the reader get involved in imagining what came next in terms of the action, but they’re given a sense of what the character’s state-of-mind is now so that they have a better idea of what the character might have actually done. This is definitely where my ending is.

#3: A Writer’s Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon

Lyon writes:

“One of the most popular endings is the epiphany. This means that the character ‘comes to realize’ something fundamental about self or life. In an illuminating moment, the protagonist gains perspective on his or her life–the past, the struggle of the plot events that they have just finished, and of the potential for the future.”

As I’ve already realized & said, my ending definitely falls in this category. Not so thrilled that it’s one of the most popular types of endings, but what can you do. It is what it is. Lyon suggests ending your story in the same settings where it began. I like this idea, and in the ending I thought I was going to have, that was what I was going to do. While I haven’t done that here, there are parallels between the beginning setting and the ending setting & I can probably further develop the parallels to really tie it together better. She also mentions ending from the point of view of your main character and with “a sense of peace & hope.” I’ve done both. Definitely the former; I guess the latter is subjective.

#4: Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg & Laura Whitcomb

Rittenberg writes:

“As you finish your first draft, slow down when you get to the last page or two. The words you use to end your story flavor the whole novel…. Bring together all the power and beauty of your storytelling as you say goodbye to your readers. Show them where they’ve been–remind them what it’s all about–and save the best for last.”

Hmmm…well given that this is my first draft & that those 70,000+ words between the beginning & the end are of questionable quality, I do think the end is better than the rest. Some of the lines, maybe even paragraphs, might survive in the 2nd draft. While the exact words of the last sentence aren’t as powerful as I want them to be, for now, I can live with the fact that I’ve come to the place–physically & emotionally–that I need my MC to be at to feel that this is the end of this draft.

#5: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Maybe when all is said and done, Lamott says it best. She’s titled her chapter on endings, How Do You Know When You’re Done? And then in the second line of the chapter answers the question.

“You just do.”

I guess I just do.

…but I’m not sure.

I thought I was going to have an epilogue that picked up a few months later, but where the story is now, I don’t feel like I need it. So, I think I’ve hit the end. But I’m not sure. I’ve been sitting here starring at the last paragraph I wrote for the last 30-minutes trying to figure out where to go next and it doesn’t feel like there’s anywhere else I, or rather, my MC needs to go. So, I guess that means the end?

This is a really weird feeling. I’m hesitating on typing those 2 words. I can’t figure out if it’s because this isn’t really THE END & I need to write some more, or if it’s because I’m just kind of sort of having a mini-freak out at the prospect of finally being done with this draft after so long.

…off to stare at that last paragraph some more & continue drowning out my confusion with carrot cake. Will update later should anything change.

A little over a week ago I mentioned the new blog I’m planning to start. I know I said I’d have something up last week, but I’m a little behind. But don’t think I’m not following through, I am. I actually spent part of Friday afternoon out doing some observation. I actually came away with a rather bizarre/surreal event to write about. To be honest, I could keep it completely non-fiction and it would still sound like I was making it up. Not entirely sure if I’m going to fictionalize it yet. I’ll play with it this week. In the meantime, writting “THE END” on the WIP is the primary focus this week…well, that and some work. I hate when that has to get in the way.

Mood: flighty

Currently listening to: Useless by Imogen Heap

No real reason for posting. Just feel like it. Nothing really to report or say. Trudging along on the draft. In a mellow mood. Kind of like being drunk, yet, I haven’t had a drop. Nice feeling when you can get it. Want to go to a yoga class this evening, but my back is bugging me. So, I guess I’ll have to find another way to maintain & sustain this feeling.

So, came across this meme on another blog I frequent via another blog. I always love a good meme. This one’s a little different. It’s a photo mosaic meme. Here are the instructions:

Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr search. Then, using only the first page of results, choose your favorite image, & copy & paste each of the URL’s into the mosaic maker (3 columns, 4 rows).

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you attend?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.

Here’s mine:

…and credit for these lovely photos where it is due…

1. Nouvel & Alison, 2. Les Moules et Frites ~, 3. The Walk Was Littered…, 4. Soft purple, 5. the way i see it #268., 6. French Martini, 7. Le Taha’a pier, 8. Mont Blanc Kinako, 9. Day 106 – I am a librarian, 10. Never Never Never, 11. flighty guy, 12. Untitled

Mood: quite proud of myself

Currently listening to: Butterflies & Hurricanes by Muse

Did it. Done. Yeah me! A little bow. A little self-congratulations. And a little ice cream.

Currently at 71,213 words and 219-pages. Saved on my hard drive and my thumb drive. Can never be too careful. Closer to typing “THE END” than I was at the beginning of these 30-days, but still a little ways to go. Just a little, I think. Kind of nice to be coming up on the end. Yes, a moment of calm. Ahhh.

The new plan is to keep up the 1,000 words a day. I’ve come to realize that 1,000 words can be pretty painless, and I can definitely get them in. Now just need to figure out the best time of day for me to write. On the weekends, I’m better in the morning. During the week, I guess it’s evenings before bed. I’d love to write in the morning, get it out of the way, make sure it’s done before I lose track of the day. But the reality is, I’m not much of a morning writer. I have my moments, but that’s all they are–moments.

So, I guess you could say I have another little word war going for the next 30 days. Another 30K and I should definitely be done. Actually, better idea…new goal…typing “THE END” on this draft by August 31st.