Is it Really the End?

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So I was chatting with my muse the other day, somewhere between moaning and bragging about editing my latest manuscript so it’ll be ready for my agent this fall.

“You know what’s ironic?” I asked her, blowing on my coffee to cool it.

She gave me a look. “What are you going on about?”

I took a deep breath and let it out slow. Sometimes it’s best that she just eases into the conversation.

“Ironic,” I said. “You know what irony is, right?”

“Not really,” she replied, looking bored. “I send my clothes to the dry cleaner.” She drifted out of the room. “Oh, yeah, you’re out of wine. Again.”

And she was gone.

So I’m gonna pretend that conversation never happened and just talk to you. You know what’s ironic? The fact that you write the words, The End, on the last page of every draft and then you move on to the next revision. Or peer reader. Or agent.

Whatever.

YA Author Tom Hoover on Finishing a BookThe point is that you label the book as ended, but you’re still working on it. So is the end really the end? Or is it just the close of another chapter? Meaning the end of one draft is just a chapter in another draft … and when does that draft end?

I have the same questions about death, but every time I send one of my book characters into that undiscovered country, they return with nothing useful to report.  It’s so unfair. It’s like I killed them for nothing.

But I digress. We were talking about books and them not ending. Ever. So can you really blame me for getting sucked into that vortex of philosophy and metaphysics? It’s like I was destined to go there. Freedom or free will? That is the question.

Dang. Another digression. This is what talking to my muse does to me. Always. I remember this one time when … Ooops.

Okay. That only counts as half a digression. I get points for that, right?

Anyway. Books never end. That’s what I was saying. They just get interrupted at some point during their narrative life, sometimes against their will and published. Take my friend—I can’t tell you her name; she’s in the Author Protection Program. Her book is done, it has a cover and a publication date. It’s being printed as I speak (I’m being figurative—just go with it). But it’s not really finished, even though it says The End at the end of it. She was rereading it recently and wanted to make changes.

My agent once told me that she doesn’t believe a book is ever really finished. That at some arbitrary point, somebody, a publisher most likely, artificially terminates the book’s revision life. They pull the plug and put it on a shelf. Of course that makes bookstores really little more than warehouses for ideas that were snuffed out before they reached the finish line.

Crap. Now I feel guilty about the revisions I’m making.

I’m gonna go have a glass of wine with my muse.

See ya.

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