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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

The Writing Life: Is a ms ever complete … finished … at ‘the end’ … done?

The answer is “Yes!” … and with a big ‘ole happy face on that anchor for the exclamation point. Of course manuscripts end – and must end – because otherwise the project never sees the light outside the writing room. What’s more, it has to end because the story can’t go on forever. Even Proust had to stop! And death is the ultimate THE END (unless you’re writing horror sequels).

I used to tell my writing students – when asked – that the author must decide “where” the story ends as well as “when.” These are often opposed to each other, but they have a strong relationship. The when, the where, the how: once you have them in mind, the proverbial “light” winks from not so long a distance.

But what I really meant when I asked of myself such a question, is all the “publishing” stuff involved once the ms is complete, finished, ready for galleys. Hell, I’ve been through with WHAT BEAUTY for weeks and weeks; the story is practically out of my mind, now that it has found its complete life on the page. I’m only scrubbing the typos.

The fun part is over. This is another thing I used to tell students. “The most fun you’ll ever have is writing the fucking story; cuz once you have to publish it, the work covers you like Agent-fucking-Orange. Editors; Publicity; interviews & book signings. This work goes on for weeks, at first, then months, and into a year or more. There is no end to publicizing your book because an author needs to sell books to make the rent / wine bill / equestrian lessons.

Fun? Hell yes! But the work; my god my god the work.

Give me a story to write that drives me crazy. That’s the writing life.

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