RushingTheEnd

Rushing the end.

When I finished the (second) rewrite of Martyrs back in 2011 (2012?), I was so fucking excited. I had one chapter to go, and I sat down at my desk and wrote and wrote until that thing was totally complete. Then, using Scrivener, I exported it to a PDF file and an EPUB file, sent copies to my main beta readers, and forced my husband to sit down and finish the last of the book.

I was so thrilled with myself, so absolutely proud, that when he sat down with me afterward and told me he thought the ending felt rushed, I was a little crushed. And angry. I called him a jerk and then quickly took it back because there had to be a damn good reason he felt that way, and I asked him to elaborate.

Though it wasn’t exactly fun to hear, he had a really good point. The writing wasn’t as thought out as it was in the chapters before it. The scenes themselves felt pushed through rather than calculated. He didn’t buy it–he had a hard time believing in what was going on.

And he was totally right.

After I calmed down and got over the disappointment from hearing someone give a constructive critique literally less than an hour after I finished the book, I sat back down with the story and reread the chapter in question. With a clearer head and a more objective outlook, I saw the exact same thing he did.

Then I took the next few hours, rewrote the ending, addressed the rushed feeling, and then re-exported the book in PDF and EPUB files, and sent out the new, updated version to my closest beta readers. My Patner In Crime reread it and was a lot happier this time.

Finally, I was actually finished.

In retrospect, I should have known to reread the end of the book before I really called it complete because I’ve noticed that trend in most other writers I know: we get so fucking excited to be at the end of our masterpiece that we type more quickly, work longer hours, and push ourselves to just get it done without stopping to consider what we’re doing as often as we do earlier in the work.

In fact, I don’t know if I’ve read a single work in the first-draft stage of any writer I know that didn’t feel like it was rushed through.

And, like I said, I totally get it, because I do the exact same thing. After rewriting Martyrs three times, I think I can finally say the book doesn’t have pieces that feel rushed–including the ending. It’s really hard, especially on your first complete draft, NOT to get excited and hurry through the story. It’s so exciting to finally be there–to see the finish line–that you just want to sprint until you can finally leap across it.

That’s totally okay.

Writers deserve this sprint. We deserve this excitement. I don’t think it really benefits us to slow down and try to focus. The second-wind is a great way to motivate ourselves to see it through. Instead, I think we need to sprint our damnedest and then come back and look at what we’ve created.

If it feels rushed (which it most likely will), take a breather, get yourself a big glass of wine, and tackle the revisions. If it feels great, get yourself a bigger glass of wine and celebrate.

Cheers,
–MC

Categories: Habits, Process, Writing

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