Last week I traveled to Honesdale, PA to participate in a Highlights Founder’s Workshop led by the brilliant Carolyn Coman and Stephen Roxburgh. A week in a cabin in the woods with nothing to think about other than my novel-in-progress. I’d been struggling with this book. Everytime I got two-thirds of the way through, I’d go back and start over because no matter which way the story was headed, I couldn’t “see” the ending.
I’d always known the endings of my other books, but somehow the fact that I didn’t for this book never stuck out for me as a red flag. What I can see so clearly now (in addition to the ending of the book) is that when I’m writing something and I don’t know how it ends, what I have is an idea, not a story.
I can keep writing away at my idea forever, but until I know where it’s going, I will never create something coherent and satisfying. This is not to say the writing process will then be easy. It may or may not be.
This may seem like a very simple insight, but if you struggle with finishing a novel, it may be an important one.
Okay…back to novelland!