I am notoriously bad at endings. I am all creative flash at the beginning of things, then progressively less useful as the process wears on. Call it not being a detail person, self sabotage… who knows.
So now I find myself at the end of my book writing process. The problem is that it is about 3 phases beyond the point where I thought I’d be done. I feel unequal to the task of making this any better. Now I am faced with ten pages of single-spaced notes from my editor and a whole weekend of childlessness which I’ve promised myself I’ll use to push through the bulk of the work that’s still left.
I am terrified.
Yesterday I was invited to participate in a panel at work on the topic of work/life balance. I have been slowly telling people about my book, mostly the people with whom I work most closely. But yesterday, as I sat on the panel, about to introduce myself, I figured I’d go for it. The moderator asked us each to talk a bit about ourselves, tell about our lives (marital status, childless or parent, kids’ ages, hobbies, etc.). The woman before me talked about going to business school at night. In the moment, I decided to mention that my first novel will be published next spring.
The room broke into applause.
It was unexpected and wonderful. All I could do was nod and smile. Right after the warm glow of acknowledgement, I was seized by fear. “I have just promised scores of my co-workers there will be a book out in the world with my name on it next spring.” And, honestly, I’m at the phase where I don’t even know if I’m good enough to make it happen. Yes, it’s written. Yes, I just have to edit some. But, remember, I am bad at endings. The closer the end comes, the more I want to run.
Today I had coffee with a woman from town that I met while we were both speakers at an event last week. She’s further along in the process – two books and a Today Show appearance under her belt, a t.v. pilot in the works. She was generous with her time and knowledge. I confessed to her that I’m still a soft smushy ball on the inside, trying to grow a hard outer shell against criticism and rejection. She laughed and said she had been lucky: she’d been a journalist for many years, and she’d been told her work was crap on a weekly basis. It made her strong and more likely to focus on honing her craft. I was both envious and appalled. I know tough skin is what’s required here, but I don’t know how to get it.
On to the ending… yet to be written.