Monday, August 15, 2011

Winding My Way To The End (Cheryl Renée Herbsman)

I never know how a story will end when I start it. I usually don't even know where it will head, as in I don't know the middle either. Almost always, I begin with a character in a situation and that's it. I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and let her guide the way, following her first tentative footsteps.

The beginning is exciting. I can't wait to find out more about who this person is, what she's like, what choices she'll make along the way, and what story it is she's
wanting to tell. Sometimes the story meanders in a way that allows her to she show me different sides of herself. Some of those meanderings lead me to crucial insights, others to dead ends that need to be cut away later on. And usually I reach a point somewhere in the dreaded middle when I realize I have no idea what this story is about, what the purpose of it is, if it's even worth writing.

It feels dangerous, scary, claustrophobic. I get stuck. But that sticking point is the very place where it's crucial not to give up. It's like that last little peak of the climb up the roller coaster hill. Get over the top and it's often a free fall down the other side, that total rush of riding your way toward the discovery of The End.

And I do love that rush. As I crest the top, I start to get the first inklings of where we might be headed and that catapults me deeper into the story. It becomes a race to the finish, still not knowing exactly what it will be, but feeling the overall sense of it more and more as we draw nearer.

Reaching The End is an ecstatic and spiritual moment. Everything comes together in ways I never could have imagined. All those twists and turns glide to a satisfying close.

For me, beginnings are the start of an adventure. Middles are mucky and sticky and scary as I fear becoming lost and trapped. And endings are a blissful and satisfying resolution.

Now it's time to get back to my work in progress where I'm climbing the tippity top of that terrifying peak. Wish me luck!


  1. Our journeys sound a lot a like although usually I have a general inkling of how the story will end just not exactly how it will unfold. But I get that same rush toward the end and have that same panic about 3/4 of the way through. Good luck, Cheryl!

  2. I know what you mean about knowing how the story will end but not unfold, Stephanie! (I think that's part of why I find middles so troubling...) And good luck, Cheryl! I envy you nearing the top of your peak!

  3. Great post! I'm totally in love with the photo of the monks riding a roller coaster!!!!