Tonight I asked an interesting question on my twitter and facebook.
Do you ever get nervous finishing a story? #amwriting
— Joshua Pantalleresco (@jpantalleresco) February 11, 2017
Why ask the question?
I’m at the end of my latest book. It’s not quite there yet. In fact, I’m writing this blog because of the quagmire finishing a story can be.
My players are in an elevator. I know what’s waiting for them on the other side of the door when the elevator dings. I know the horrors, the monstrosities, and the wonders that await my characters. I know it’s there.
But I’m hesitant to cross it.
The story is nearly done you see. I’m at the climax, the big action sequence, and the finale.
After that? It’s over.
That’s the crux of it isn’t it?
Most of us look at the end of the story with nothing to look forward to. I mean, once it’s done, it’s done right? Where do you go from there?
I feel this feeling persists not just in writing, but in everything. We are great at beginnings. I get excited personally at the process of the challenge. It’s like seeing something in the horizon that is amazing. You have to work at it, (but that’s part of the fun) yet there is a journey and a path to walk.
Oh sure, problems come along. Which project goes perfect in the end? Yet you keep going. Writing, composing, engineering, crafting…you name it, take work and time and care to produce.
And then you get to where I’m at…at the end.
Then what do you do?
Part of the problem too is that I’m good. Now that might sound arrogant, but as an artist let me ask you something. How do you know you know something at the craft, if you don’t believe yourself to be good?
The answer is that you know enough to know that there is still room for improvement. You see your flaws with clarity; there is room for growth and you can see it. You are at the very least, competent enough to see it.
Artists are never satisfied. It doesn’t matter who you are, you know there is more. There is better. You can do better.
That, my friends is the evil trap. It’s a seductive trap. It is the dark side of the farce. There comes a point when you as an artist settle. This work you slaved, sweated, and strived at can only be so good with you as you are now. You have to at some point let the work go and share it to the world.
It could be a publisher, agent, beta reader, or your audience. But you as a writer in particular, need that exposure to an eye not as close to this work you have struggled with.
Sharing your work with someone in any art form is part of your growth. You NEED to do this. Let go. You have other projects that are calling for your attention. You only have so much time to do it.
Of course, none of this above is talking about the fear. Fear is a big part of this fear of moving forward to the end. It’s not rational. I know deep down I have more stories to tell. I’m a writer dang it! I have ideas and I got at least one more book I want to do this year. That is my rational brain functioning.
My irrational part of me still wonders. Is this it? Is this the last story I’m going to tell? Who’s going to read it anyway? Am I pretentious to put the pen to paper and do it?
The end is here.
There’s another way to look at it. Endings are beginnings too. When I finish this story and it’s not in my head, and I’m letting my friends and beta readers eviscerate the story and make it something that my audience wants to read. I got other stories I need to tell. Doing other projects will help me grow. Each journey I take is part of my growth as an artist. It will make me stronger and better at my craft. It will allow me to triple down on my strengths as a storyteller. I will look back on my story and see where I can make it better.
But I won’t touch it. I will finish it and move on. I have more stories to tell and things to say. I have to write them dang it.
It’s not just my ending. It’s a new beginning. When I think of it like that, it’s easier to put those last words to the page. Which is now what I’m going to do.
The journey goes on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got a story to finish. I left my characters in the elevator. I have to see what happens when they open the door.
Don’t be afraid to open yours.