The Last Mile

The last mile of a marathon is the most difficult, so the saying goes. Bloody right it is, too. I’ve been sitting with two chapters to go in my mammoth edit for a few days now. It’s like I don’t want to finish, and it’s a familiar feeling for me. Rather than piling in to make sure something’s done, I have an unfortunate habit of getting distracted.

In short, I’m my own worst enemy.

But is my reluctance to finish simply because I’ve really enjoyed the editing process this time around, or is it because I’m afraid of the final two chapters? Maybe a little bit of both. Having so long to think about everything in the novel recently has brought about a few little changes to the big action sequence at the end, which have made me roll my eyes, thinking, “How the hell am I going to write this?” I can do it – I was just exaggerating to myself for effect – but the different conclusion to the chapter may have ramifications further down the line.

I tend to talk like this, and it’s a silly thing to think about at the moment, really. After all, if the book’s picked up, I’ll have ample opportunity to talk everything through with an editor and make a final decision. I know that. For now, though, it does feel important and – who knows? – this bit could be the difference between representation and non-representation (in fact, that’s been the paranoia about much of the new edit, but never mind). The original end to the chapter was pretty cool but also rather bleak. I was already thinking about the next book, and maybe went too “plot” with it. The new conclusion retains much of the flavour of the original, but goes far more for character. It feels like the culmination of Sebastian’s journey in a way that the original didn’t. But it also has implications for future stuff. I’m excited about them. Hopefully I’ve gone in the right direction.

As I come to the end, I’m left with the question of whether what I’ve done is good enough. It feels nice. But then again, even the first draft seemed great, only to later (with new eyes) look rubbish. Self-doubt strikes again. “Just do your best”, you’re told, “and that’s good enough.” Well, not for me. It’s not enough to be good. In order to make this work, I have to be great. And I have absolutely no idea where the truth of my writing ability lies. I read other people’s work, and it astonishes me how well it’s been constructed. Then I’ll read something else and wonder how the hell it was ever published. How much does success in this industry rely on raw talent, and how much is about being in the right place at the right time with the right material? I don’t know. I just have to hope that the stars align. It’s a good story. I just hope I’ve executed it well enough.

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