Wanted to write about Quiet today. The book & my need for some. Been feeling raw and unsettled and have not yet reached that place where I can claim my quiet, although I am working on it. Progress slow, but being made. I make things out of no-things all the time. Today I made ten pages of a book out of blank white paper. Turned them dark and inky. Sprinkled in a little bit of light.
One of the phrases I loved the most, snatched from my notebook with glee, was useless. It was beautiful and I adored it, but it didn’t fit anywhere. Maybe it still will because I have not finished the book. I’m through the messy middle and I’ve reached everyone’s climax (ahem) but now to bring them to an ending. There’s an easy way to do this. A connect-the-dot way. I use it all the time. Happy ending. Problem solved. Murder avenged.
Now that there have been, much to my surprise, two murders committed on my pages, it would seem that okay, I can just use the endings that conventional romances (Plot A) and mysteries (Plot B) traditionally use. Except. That sly Lily. She was just a teenager in Blue Heaven but now she’s finished college and she’s back in town trying to take over the book. She came creeping into my head this week and demanded to have her own spin-off series. She wants to solve crimes and shoot guns and stuff. I’m telling her to shut up because I don’t know a thing about any of that but she says I’ve written it before. I’m writing it now. And she’s right.
So what does that have to do with this book’s ending?
If Lily is going to have her series, or at least another book, and I think she will, if I can just get some quiet to develop her new storyline, I’m going to have to leave room in this book for loose ends. I’m gonna have to break some hearts and leave them unmended. I’m going to have to sink blood, bones, and soul into this story’s end.
How do you do that? In “An Anatomy of Endings” David Chase suggests that instead of my typical “closer” type ending where loose ends are tied, and relationships restored, I might go with a “clincher” that “surprises by tying story strings together in an unexpected way or throwing a new, ironic light on the whole recent past.” Yeah, ironic. Lily can do that. I can do that.
Or can I? Chase lists all the ways a “clincher” can fail: the cop out, the let down, the tie up, the wrap up, the aha, the huh? are all filled with pencil-type peril. I do know this: I’ll try anything once. I have never been afraid to take the leap. It’s just a book. There’s always revision. Which basically means I’ll try anything twice. Or even three times.
The next question is: will Lily’s landing be soft or hard? I think right now it’s gotta be hard, even though everything inside me longs for strong soft & quiet.
Reading your post is remarkable, in as much as it’s a bit like listening to me. Quite apart from my own quest for peace and quiet, the book I have just finished writing has not turned out the way I intended either. Somewhere along the way, one of the characters decided he would kill as many of my cast as was humanely possible!
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Sometimes the consequences of our choices carry far. Much further than we think.
Yes, Lucinda…they can follow a long lifetime.