I firmly believe that an author should only be allowed to write the words “The End” when she is truly finished with a novel. Why? Because finishing the first draft is only the beginning of the most important phase: the “make pretty”.
Yesterday I finished the first draft of Pardon Falls, my second novel. This was a bittersweet journey for me. Phoenix was my first love, that tender first relationship that teaches you so much. Pardon Falls is the second boy, the one you have to work a little harder at loving, the one you argue with because you know how things are supposed to be. Sure, you really want to write something this way, but you know in the end you’ll have to do it the other way and you just don’t want to prove him right. (Wait, we’re still talking about novels here, right?)
I was equally pulled forward to the end and repelled by it. Pulled towards something that I hope will stretch me as a writer, but repelled by what I would have to dig into to write it. Did I nail it? Hell no. But I hope to during the many edits and rewrites that face me as I continue on my journey towards my ultimate goal, a book spine with my name on it.
So while I ended the precious first draft of Pardon Falls, I begin what truly makes 82,000 words into something meaningful. And yes, I did write “the end” at the bottom of page 287, but we all know it really is only the beginning.