Today was kind of a big day for me and my little ole book.
I’ve spent more than three years on this baby, painfully cranking out the 130,000-odd words that constitute my fifth novel, whose working title is Paradise. (5 second pitch: “Absolom Absolom meets The Sound of Music.”) And all this time, I’ve been wondering: how on earth am I ever going to end this thing? I had in mind a final scene which involved telling quite a funny joke, but was never quite sure how to get there.
It’s a high-risk strategy, this kind of stunt. “Writing organically” is one way of putting it. “Typing into the void” is another. I really should know better, too: when I was living in London I once spent six months writing myself into a dead end of a story line, which I had to abandon and start all over again.
After that debacle, I promised myself that I would always know where I was going in the future – plots all meticulously charted on timelines, that sort of thing. Anyway, that was obviously a bust, and as the book has grown I’ve become increasingly anxious that I may have screwed up again, with all these lovely words and characters and nifty story lines, but nowhere to go. So I have spent the last few mornings staring into space, thinking as hard as I could, trying to make some tough decisions. And, rather to my surprise, this morning everything seemed to fall neatly into place, and, as Dickie Smothers would say, viola. I have a plan, an exit strategy.
Now all I have to do is write the damn thing.