First, huge congratulations go out to Bernita Harris! The Weirdly anthology that stars her story, Stone Child, is available in print via Amazon here. (And here’s my review, if you want to remember what it’s about.) I’ve had the chance to read a few more of the stories and it’s a good collection, different in a refreshing way.
I’ve been struggling with endings, lately. In fact, I’m so intent on improving my endings that I want to write a ton of them.
While writing beginnings can improve your beginnings, I’m not convinced anything but writing a whole story can improve your endings. But maybe I could imagine beginnings and middles, and just write a few endings for practice?
That would be weird, but I’m into practicing in weird ways. Maybe because in piano, if you practice something in a harder way or force yourself to practice it in a different way, you not only improve what you’re working on but you make it feel easier. You make it something you can wield with more artistic control.
But writing is like a solitary performance, a mixture of practicing and performing where the lines are blurred, you know? I have to call on the mental game of practicing as much as I call upon the mental game of performing, and they’re two different things.
If something is hard for me, I force myself to do it a bunch. If I think I can’t work a certain way, I make myself work that way. If I resist trying something or hear myself say "I don’t/can’t do that," or "That doesn’t work for me," then I force myself to do it.
For some odd reason, I always resist whatever would be best for me. The more it would be good for me, the stronger I resist.
I’ve always thought that you can find your ending in the beginning, but John Irving says the exact opposite. He says he writes his ending first, writes his book backwards. That’s interesting. (If I understand correctly, he sits and imagines the whole story before he writes that ending, though.)
I should probably try writing my ending first sometime, since I believe I can’t, LOL. Neil Gaiman writes brilliant beginnings and endings, but the middle is "just" great with flashes of brilliance.
But it’s easy to see why that happens. There’s something very similar about the beginning and the end. They’re like the same two beasts, except the ending goes backwards. The beginning hooks into the middle and the end hooks into the middle. And the beginning and the end are like twin sisters on opposite sides. Sort of. I don’t know, I’m just rambling my thoughts.
Jenny Crusie writes the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read. I can’t quite put my finger on why.
Writing how-to books are pretty quiet about endings. Many of them will ruthlessly talk about the beginning and may even address the middle, but I can’t remember a real focused study on endings.
I guess I have no conclusion today. Any thoughts? On endings or practicing or the mental game of writing?