Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Writing the End

The end of the year is on the horizon. I am so very close to finishing my novel -- like done, done -- done and revised and polished -- so done I am thinking about query letters and pitches and the blurb on the back cover. So close I am certain what the cover image will be. I accept that I will need to revise in January, that the opening may need to be tweaked, that I referenced echoes and vibrations too many times in chapter 9, and that the one phrase near the bottom of page 1 that I just put in isn't quite right.

I've been working on this a long while - researching coal towns and coal mines and coal burning stoves; visiting abandoned mines; learning how to mine coal before mechanization; checking with experts about the kind of rock I'd find in a particular creek, the smell of carbide, and whether hydrangeas could actually be blue in Scott County, Tennessee, in 1932; meandering through coal museums that saved augers, pickaxes, lunch buckets, and company script; touring abandoned mines and coal towns; and looking through an electronic version of a 1932 Sears Roebuck catalog so I could stand in the shoes of my main character when she decides what to buy.

In that moment, she is given a chance to start over. She and her husband have nothing of their own. Ordering from the catalog (and choosing how much debt she will accept) will determine what her life will look like. That's the chapter I'm finishing today. It Is difficult not to get lost in the catalog and in imagining what I would have chosen if I were in her shoes.

I have been working on this so long that I can smell my main character and know the texture of her skin and hair. I feel the pain she feels in the scene where I stopped writing, the scene just before I hurt her much worse, let her have hope, and then hurt her so badly she is almost destroyed (almost) at the same moment the town falls apart around her and the hierarchy that had held the town together explodes and crumbles and dissolves.

I can 100% visualize these ending scenes in my mind and have been able to for the last two years since I began rewriting it. Now the struggle is to write these last scenes for the last time and have it match my expectation (no pressure at all). #amwriting