Sometimes a story simply won’t or can’t be written. The idea is a good one but somehow it won’t translate to the page. However many times you try it simply doesn’t work.
“My Monster” should have been good. Based on a real life experience it was intended for a well known weekly woman’s magazine. The ingredients were all there. A stroppy nine year old, a mum in a new relationship, the child’s attitude towards Mum’s new partner and how it was resolved by an unexpected family visit. I tried the long version first, then cut it right down to 750 words. I tried mainly dialogue, then mostly narrative, but still it was flat and unconvincing.
This story isn’t the only one I have in my files that hasn’t made it. My fellow writers at Room in the Roof will remember a certain cherub with attitude and then there’s the outline of a novel, or rather the plan and detailed notes. Again it should work. I know my characters and their background. The setting is one I’ve used before in “City of Secrets” but the book won’t come together.
Totally abandonment feels wrong. I can’t delete my darlings and yet I know that spending more time on them is frustrating and unproductive.
So what to do about it? Any suggestions gratefully received.
For three or maybe even four weeks I have been putting off the final edit of my second book in the “Clear Gold” trilogy. Rather than complete the task, I polished up some of my short stories and sent them off, worked in the garden, baked a cake, anything rather than face the fact that I would sooner or later have to finish the book.
The problem was that the ending wasn’t working. I had a suspicion that was so, confirmed by feedback from two experienced editor friends of mine Jan Edwards and Peter Coleborn of Alchemy Press. Other member of Renegade Writers had also commented that Mouse, my main character, was losing her edge.
The trouble was I didn’t know what to do about it. I made endless notes on scrappy pieces of paper. I made myself sit down and writer down some ideas. It still wasn’t working. Getting down to writing, even getting going into my office was harder and harder.
Then I talked it through with Mike. My husband is not a writer, but over the years I’ve found that he has this knack of cutting through my creative tangles. A ten minute conversation over breakfast and all became clear. So why had it taken so long for me to see what had to be done?
Judging by posts on Facebook I wasn’t the only writer having these problems. Was it because we didn’t want to let go of our work? I know I hate it when I come to the end of a book. I’ve lived with these characters and situations for almost a year and I don’t want to part with them. Nor do I want that scary moment when I have to face what I’m going to do next.
Perhaps that’s the real reason why endings are difficult, because they lead to new beginnings and new beginnings bring with them new challenges.