Fear in Writing: The Ending

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ending

Are you a writer who sees the ending before it's written?  Perhaps I should ask this a different way...

Are you a person who plans long-term?  Or do you see what is right in front of you, the here and now?

On page 228 of The Sherlockian, Graham Moore writes, "The thing [Harold] most remembered about her...was her ability to live entirely in the present.  She was able to accept the joys and misfortunes in front of her as they came, without wondering endlessly when the joys would end or the misfortunes would lift.  Harold was paralyzed by endings."
There are, of course, benefits to both.  Those of us who think of the right now (like me), tend to be optimistic people who worry less and do a lot of spontaneous things.  Those who view the far future save for retirement, retire earlier, and solve problems before they arise.

And, there are negatives.  I, for one, am not a planner.  I don't save and I don't clip coupons and I don't think about the trips we'll take when our children are out of the house.  I want the trips now and I want to have fun now.  Long-termers seem to have a little trouble letting go of worries in order to enjoy what's right in front of them.

But in book writing, it has to be better to be a long-term thinker, right?  Take it from one who is not: this is the case.  I don't see an ending, I see chapter by chapter.  I might see parts of my characters' makeup, but not the whole of him/her until I write them.  I am a writer who writes when I feel like it, not at a set time every day.  I live my life the same way--and it's been known to cause a problem or two in my house.

So, are you a 'Harold' writer or a 'Michele' writer?


  1. Michele - Interesting question! I have to admit I'm a long-term thinker. I am. I know how my book will end when I start it. Now of course, I try to be flexible, too. If I get a "right now" idea, I include it and that can alter the course of the work. But I do admit; I'm a planner.

  2. When I start a piece, I start at the end. Thank heaven don't live my life that way,
    Planning in too much detail never seems t pan out for me.

  3. As far as real life, I don't plan too far ahead, but I do plan out my writing.

  4. I always start from the end. And then I work backwards to find the beginning. It's the long term goals that keep me tied in the present. If I don't save, we won't be going to Disneyland, so I better get my butt in the chair right now.

  5. My couple abandoned works are those I didn't know the ending for. I end up writing myself into a corner or taking a tangent I can't see myself back away from. I won't outline, but I do start with a timeline. That is not to say I haven't changed endings if some better idea comes up, but I have to know the end point. (In life I am a little the same... live in the now and have optimism, but dreaming about the later and trying to do what I need to get there.