Fearing ‘The End’

I have six chapters to write to complete the official rewrite of That which is left is lostMy self-imposed deadline of the 10th July is fast approaching and, although I’m behind schedule, I believe that date is still in reach to complete the manuscript.

However, I’m putting it off.

This isn’t just because I have some major reposibilities at work which are eating into my writing time and messing with my schedule, or linked to the resurfacing of some of my M.E. symptoms that mean marathon writing sessions just aren’t possible – it’s more to do with FEAR.

I am afraid to finish writing my novel.

fearThere, I said it – I’ve announced it to the world. Unlike on previous occasions, when the finishing line was an acheivement to be celebrated, this time I know it signifies the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. This time around other people will see my efforts and provide some critique. While I might be confident that there will be good things to discover, I am certain that there are things to be fixed; some of them quite overwhelming.

In these final six chapters I have to write before ‘The End’ I need to make sure I live up to the promise of the first few chapters. I need to describe the explosion that is the crisis followed by the ‘black moment’ and then wrap up the conflict sufficiently and believably. My characters need to behave for all of this to work – and because I’ve altered the story from my original draft zero (the first attempt, where I discovered story, plot and characters) some characters might have issue with the proposed climax. I have to make sure that everything that has happened previously leads to them making the choices I need them to make without it being contrived or forced. That’s a huge undertaking, even if that’s where it’s been headed all along.

So yes, I am trepidatious about writing these final chapters because I feel they could make or break the novel as a whole. My entire story could fall flat and I could discover that the plot doesn’t work at all. Who wouldn’t be nervous about that?

Still, I also know there are only two solutions:
1) Stop writing the book, put it in a drawer and forget about it.
Or
2) Embrace the fear and finish writing it anyway.

And I’ve come this far, so why would I waste all that hard work and creation now? Anyone who has been following my efforts via the blog knows by now that I am not a quitter, that I will do everything I can to try and then try again to live my dream. I will get around to writing those final six chapters, I know I will. But first, I might just need some time to prepare in order to face the fear.

~~~

Have you ever feared finishing something? How do you handle the doubts this late into a project? What makes you ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ in situations like this?
Share your experiences in the comments, or Tweet Me some wise, supportive words to spur me on!

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14 responses to “Fearing ‘The End’

  1. Pingback: New Writing. Old Fears. | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

  2. Hi Cat,
    I’ve just been reading this great book called The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth by Chris Brogan, and he talks a lot about the fear of failure. Here’s his perspective on it: “My success is built entirely on my ability to fail quickly and then learn and adapt from the results of that failure…by willing to fail, I can collect data that other people rarely see.” He also talks about how babies learn to walk by falling down a lot. 🙂 I thought it was a great way to think about the fear. I wish you all the best in your journey to the end!

    • That is a fantastic perspective! Thanks Sue. It’s such a simple way of understanding that we learn from our failure and pick ourselves up to try again.

      I might print that comment out to stick next to my writing desk. It will be good to be reminded of it regularly.

      Much appreciated. Really pleased you stopped by to comment. 🙂
      Take Care,
      Cat

      • Glad you liked it! Of course, I just realized I meant to write “by being willing to fail” instead of “by willing to fail.” LOL! Two very different things. 🙂 I guess I failed to write my comment properly!
        All the best,
        Sue

  3. I’m there right now. I just finished the third draft, which in a lot of ways is a much different story than the second, and I’m afraid that when I send it out to my betas, it’ll come back as crap. That all of my nuance, the piles of development in all directions, and all the other stuff I worked hard putting into the book aren’t showing, and I need to fix it all back.
    But I could just as easily get back critique about the level of what I’m expecting, it’s some quick scene fixes, and I’m ready to polish it for grammar/wording and get it out there. I just don’t know.
    So don’t feel alone in being afraid of finishing it up. It’s all of us writer types.

    • You nailed it. I’m terrified that my beta readers won’t recognise what my story is, or believe the characters I’ve spent so long ‘speaking’ to who are now real to me!
      I can still identify lots of things wrong with my writing, but in all honesty, what I need is for someone on the outside to confirm these things, to highlight where I might be doing some things right and to tell me whether or not there is any mileage in the story as it is. I need the feedback, because I can’t be objective anymore.

      Thanks for sympathising. It’s good to know I’m not alone with my fears. I think I might need to go back and re-read your guest post. I think I must be in a self-critiquing slump.

      Take Care,
      Cat

  4. I definitely understand where you’re coming from, Cat. I’ve been there all too often. Worrying that all of that work just isn’t good enough. And sometimes it’s not. But even when it doesn’t work out just the way you wanted it to in this draft, it’s okay. Every word we write and every draft we finish is a learning experience. Even if it’s not quite what you were hoping it would be, it’s just another layer of the foundation for building that story the way that it should be told. : )

    • That is a very sensible way of approaching it and I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve done a lot of learning over the past few years – much of which I’ve tried to share on this blog – this is a whole new experience: finishing a draft of a novel knowing that it represents the story I wanted to tell.

      I should be revelling in all the learning I’m doing and embracing the challenge rather than whimpering in a corner…(okay, so I might not be that bad, but I’m getting there!).

      Thanks for letting me know it’s okay, and for reassuring me that even if the words I write might not be okay, in the bigger picture – it will be.

      Take Care,
      Cat

  5. We all go there Cat. I often have to stop writing after I’ve had a good run of half an hour or so because I’m afraid whatever I write next won’t live up to what I’ve just written. Finishing your novel and putting it out for critique is naturally going to be daunting and intimidating but, as you say, what’s the alternative? Giving up isn’t an option, so just accept that anything that’s worth doing should scare you a bit or it probably wouldn’t be worth doing.

    • I like the idea that if something scares me, it’s probably worth doing. That’s reassuring somehow!

      I am afraid that the story won’t live up to the expectations i have for it, but the only way to find this out is to write it and see. Perhaps, just maybe, my beta readers will see the potential where I do not and I can start the next round of revisions more confidently. But, I won’t know that until I do it.

      *pulls socks up*
      *determined face*
      Thanks for the pep talk 😉
      Cat

  6. Cat, I’ve finished two first drafts (two different novels) in the past year and those days when I typed “The End” were the most bittersweet I’ve had as a writer. I’ve learned that I adore the first draft process–that beautiful pouring out of heart and mind, the permission I give myself to do the thing I love the most: write. And like you, those last chapters are the hardest, my mind drags, I fear the “what next?” and I fear that what I’ve spent months falling in love with is, in fact, complete shite.
    No words of wisdom, just huge amounts of empathy. Get ‘er done. Get your story out into the world (listen to Candace!!). Very best wishes and writing mojo to you. Congratulations- you’re almost there!

    • Thanks doll. It’s good to know I’m not being ridiculous and my feelings are valid manifestations of typical writers experience.

      I’m still struggling to get it written, but I’ll get there. I know I will. Even if it is all completely rubbish, that’s what revision and editing is for. Keep needing to remind myself of that good ol’ saying “Can’t edit a blank page”!

      Thanks for the support. 🙂
      Take Care,
      Cat

  7. Fear of failure is probably the biggest obstacle most of us face, and it happens in every aspect of life. And there is nothing sweeter than overcoming that fear and achieving success; it doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, WOW!

    You can do, this, Cat! The world is waiting for your book!

    • Thanks Candace! 🙂 I am determined to get it done…tho another hour of procrastination – I mean precious research and planning time – shouldn’t hurt. Though I can’t expect it will really help either.

      Thanks for the support. Know I can rely on you (which is why, when it comes to the editing stage I might be calling on your valuable services!).

      Take Care,
      Cat x

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