The Patient Writer
Are you like me? I always rush my ending because I want to be done already. I catch it in revision, but there’s another problem: by the time I get to that point of the manuscript, I want the rewrite to be over. I have to really be careful and catch myself. I caught myself today.
I remember going over this ending with my critique group several months ago. At the time, I had one person who was really tough on me. This person never said so directly, but I knew by their comments that they did not like my writing. Still, I was able to cut through the BS and get to the feedback I knew I needed. It only took about six months:)
I was busy doing other things, getting two other novels published, but still, criticism can sometimes sting so much that it takes me a long time to look at it without emotion and actually use the advice that I know is right and leave the trash talk behind. I spent a lot of time this past six months thinking about what I could do to make that black moment tighter, more real, blacker.
One of the things I did wrong with this ending is let my character act like an idiot when someone commits a crime that blows up her world. My critic said “she should call the police right away” and I didn’t want that to happen. So, after her initial actions end in frustration, I had her go swimming. In my defense, I wanted my character to try to fix things herself at first and I wanted to show how her grief overwhelms her when she can’t.
The way I wrote it, she never contacts the police. Now I realize she has to do that after her initial actions fail (not “first” like my critic suggested) instead of jumping in the freezing cold lake in her sweatshirt and jeans. I had to do a little research on the difference between city police, local sheriff, state police. Did you know it’s a “police station” and a “sheriff’s office”? Neither did I. But I needed to know. Sometimes what makes me push on when I need to stop and rewrite is something as insignificant like not wanting to stop the momentum to look up a quick fact or two.
I am not a patient person, but to write well, you need a lot of patience, so I try to cultivate what little I have when I am in writing mode. And just by slowing down, thinking things through, I got a really good idea this morning on how to get my character through her black moment without compromising her core values.