Endings and Beginnings
Today was Publication Day for IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST, a book I spent years writing and rewriting and rethinking and agonizing over (in typical writerly fashion). And as thrilled as I am to have it out in the world at last, it’s not like today was all that different from many other days: I still had to drag myself out of bed to get my kids breakfast; I puttered around the house, thinking of all the things that needed to be cleaned/thrown out; I read a few chapters of the mystery book I fell asleep over last night; and I ate a fast-food lunch in my car while running errands. (Ah, the glamorous literary life!)
This is the start of LAKECREST being out in the world, but it’s also an ending of sorts. The book is now out of my hands: no more rewrites, no more discussions about the cover or title….it’s done. And that’s pretty liberating, especially since I’m now consumed with finishing up my next book (which I’ll get into another time).
The thing is, when it comes to books, I’m all about the ending. A great ending will make me love an otherwise OK book; a lame ending will overshadow an otherwise great book. One of the all-time great endings, for me, was ATONEMENT, by Ian McEwan. It had a twist I did not see coming at all, and it wasn’t one of those twists that are there just to be shocking–it genuinely moved me. I remember having to sit and process that ending for quite a while afterwards.
Another memorable ending was IN THE WOODS, by Tana French. I raced to the end of that book, wondering how she’d tie up all the storylines, only to find out….wahh?? I won’t give it away, but let’s just say, not everything was resolved. I was mad at first, and then I went back and re-read whole sections, and eventually I forgave Ms. French, because her writing is just too great. I had a similar experience with THE LITTLE STRANGER, by Sarah Waters: adored the book, raced through it, got to the end and couldn’t believe that it wasn’t all neatly explained. A hour or so later, having disappeared down the Internet rabbit hole and read dozens of online discussions, I realized that there was a solution hidden there all along….which held up when I re-read the book a few years later.
I rewrote the endings of WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT and IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST multiple times, trying to meet my own “great ending” test. Not sure if I succeeded or not, but I’m happy with the choices I made. And I’m thrilled that LAKECREST is out at last…my own version of a happy ending.