The Weekly Re-Motivator: Finish Lines

I’m very close to the end of my 2nd book.

When I was close to the end of my first book, I recalled something I read in Andre Agassi’s memoir, Open: that the end of a big match is like a magnet, both pulling you in and repelling you at the same time. The closer you get to the end of the project, the more your momentum builds, but the less you actually want to cross the finish line. Like a magnet, spinning off its poles until it doesn’t know which way to turn.

So, here, at the end of my second novel, I guess the muddled feeling in my head is to be expected. This week I’m writing the climax of the book, and while that’s incredibly energizing and the energy has me completing my daily writing goal in about thirty minutes, it’s also pretty terrifying. Because when I finish the draft, the only thing looming for me is the Edit.

And the edit is a fearsome beast, indeed.

Editing this thing will be a monster, because I’ve made so many changes along the way that the project probably looks like a plateful of soggy scrambled eggs in the rear view mirror. The list of fixes to make will be longer than a five-hour drive to the beach, to be sure. But I know that’s coming.

What I didn’t see coming — what was surprisingly and delightfully unexpected — was the series of things I’ve learned from writing this draft, as opposed to my first. My first novel was largely plotted out before I ever started writing it. This one… well, let’s say that it was about 10% plotted and it’s 90% off-the-cuff. I’m not a good planner to begin with, but this has been an exercise in embracing the whim of the moment and charging fearlessly into the dark.

Well, I can’t say fearlessly. Every step has been filled with doubt like the Kool-Aid man is filled with creepy Kool-Aid blood, but that hasn’t stopped me from hurling myself into the unknown. There have been a ton of missteps along the way. Lots of dead ends, lots of pitfalls, lots of bottomless cliffs disguised as comfy places to rest. But I think that there may be some sparkling gems hidden in the shrapnel of my passage. There just may be enough salvageable junk to build a functional story out of.

What’s the takeaway? Well, I guess in fairness, I can’t quite rightly say yet — I’ll check back in a couple weeks when the project is well and truly finished. (Or rather, when this leg of the project is well and truly finished.) But having one draft in the bag has taught me enough that any future writing project will be just about equal parts expected and unexpected.

Best you can hope for is to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

This weekly Re-Motivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every Saturday, I use LindaGHill‘s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.