So when you Google, in despair, “how do I end my novel?” (yes, I actually did this, that’s how traumatized I have been. The depths to which I have sunk at times. Perhaps I was expecting an answer from some online Magic 8-Ball. Hell, I don’t know), you get a whole bunch of sites on how to FINISH a novel. It’s not the same thing. Finishing a novel is easy. You just need a few years, bulldoglike tenacity, the ability to keep 10 million things straight in your head, and a whole slew of generous and brilliant readers who can point out all the bits of forest you missed for the trees.
It’s ENDINGS that are hard. How to strike the note that wraps things up right, without being trite or pat or cutesy or taking refuge in the expected, a place I find myself going way too often. Just read a lovely quote by Geoff Dyer in this Guardian article, Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (thanks for the link, Susan!):
Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought – even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.
Anyway, after approximately 4 days’ thinking (all the hours added up together, excluding far too much time spent on Facebook and watching “Celebrity Rehab with Dr Drew” (I told you I’ve sunk to some pretty low depths)) and 1,000 applications of the Delete button, I think I might have it. It’s not perfect yet — the rhythm’s slightly off, something — but it’s starting to feel right.
Just in time for another ending. Tomorrow I leave the Banff Centre, my residency at an end. I’m very sad about that and I want to come back as soon as I can, but I’m looking forward to going home, and I’m grateful for the amazing people I met here, the astonishing things I saw and listened to, the work I got done, the space and the time. Oh, and the meals. Good God, the meals.
Next stop: Concentrating on Coffee Shop Author.