Ah, there’s nothing quite like typing the last line in an epilogue! I was going to do a cart-wheel of joy, but came to my senses before I ended up in traction. Instead, I settled for a victory dance that left my cats traumatized and confused just by bearing witness to it.
The epilogue of a story is the culmination of all the work I’ve done up to that point, but it’s more than that. It’s also where I finally see what happens to my characters and how they now fit in this new world that exists after the climax of their tales. Sometimes, I am just as surprised by the way a story ends as my readers probably are. I can’t always plan out their endings because the characters themselves take on a life of their own.
Morbidon’s Bride is finished in its first draft which takes a lot of pressure off of me to get chapters finished before the deadline. I’m not sure yet if I will publish the last two chapters and epilogue on Friday or not (though I will be publishing at least one chapter). That really depends on how much I get done on editing them over the next couple of days. If I can get it all done, then I’m definitely going to put it out there, but honestly, the end of the book is the most critical part of it for me, and I feel like I have to get it just right (while at the same time being certain that I can’t get it perfect!).
I know that the beginning of a novel is what gets a reader hooked, but the beginnings always seem to come easy for me. Hooking someone is not as difficult as avoiding the possibility that you will disappoint them in the end. Therefore, it’s always the end of a novel that I face with trepidation and a great deal of stress.
Ultimately, I must accept that as long as I am satisfied—and more importantly, that my characters have gotten the ending they’ve been heading towards—it will be enough. Of course, a lot of my endings point to new beginnings, which is exhausting because as I type the final words in someone’s story, I see new stories spawning and taking off, demanding I pursue them. Sometimes, it’s like releasing a bag of cats in a field.
I’m both relieved and a little sad whenever I end a story. I know that I will return to it again and again as I revise and edit it, but at the same time, I’m no longer in that discovery phase with my characters. We’ve moved on to the comfortable, less chaotic part of our relationship, where that new-car smell has worn off, but your butt has made the perfect impression in the driver’s seat, letting everyone know the car is yours.
There’s excitement in every beginning. You don’t really know where it’s going to go, even if you try to plan it all out. Even the best-laid plans can change as characters take on personalities and hijack your narrative. It’s this very eventuality that makes it difficult for me to walk away from the computer when I’m in the middle of a manuscript. It’s because of this new relationship excitement that I forget to get up and stretch my legs and go get a drink of water before I end up dryer than a silica gel packet.
I’ve managed to stretch the development of Morbidon’s Bride out by only publishing one chapter at a time, and I can say that it has been a good experience for me. That initial disappointment at reaching the end of a tale has taken a while to get here, so it’s less shocking to my system, less abrupt, and the relief and sense of accomplishment are more pronounced because I’m not suffering from that overwhelming sense of sorrow at finishing a good story (yeah, I believe all my stories are good. What can I say? I might be a little biased. 😉 ).
I feel good. It won’t last because I’m a perfectionist, and it won’t be long before I’m agonizing over every little detail during edits (like where to put the gosh-darn commas!) but for a brief moment—a minuscule moment of time—I am content in a job well done.