There seems to be a lot of hype centered around the "blank first page". It is a thing many writers seem to be deathly afraid of, like the authorial equivalent of the giant squid or Medusa. Every writing adviser has advice for the just-beginning writer. "Just start writing!" they trumpet. "Just get something down!"
Well, guess what? Starting has never been my problem (excuse me while I duck the rotten fruit being hurled at me).
I can't even count the number of books and stories I've started throughout my writing career- even before it was a career, per se. There have been tons of them. Literally, tons. I can even remember a few of them. I can remember the jubilant feeling of "Hey, I think I've really got something here" as I soared through the first twenty, thirty, even forty pages. Once, I even reached page fifty!
But then something would happen. Jitters, self-doubt, boredom, I don't know how quite to describe it. Maybe it was a combination of all those things. But whatever it was, all of a sudden my writing would slow to a trickle, then a drop, then finally, would fizzle out altogether. This happened time after time after time.
Hence why- as I said in a previous post- reaching page 200 of my current novel was so exciting to me. It represented a milestone I had never reached before. That milestone now pages behind me, my first draft is in its final pages. Which brings me to a hurdle I have never faced before.
How the hell do I finish?
Lest I sound like some stereotypical, anxiety-written, "afraid to say goodbye" writer, let me clarify. I know how I want my novel to end. Hell, I've outlined the shit out of the thing. And I like my characters, and want to see them end up happy together. But Jesus, the getting there is just straight painful!
I've come up with several things that I think could be responsible for this odd problem. And in fashionable list form, here they are:
1) This is virgin territory. Like I said, I've never made it this far before. Over the years, I've honed just about every aspect of writing: my dialogue sparkles, my scenic descriptions would make you want to buy a plane ticket to the middle of nowhere (which is where my novel is set), my characterization is so realistic you'd think I was a shrink (close: I've just seen a lot of them... ahem.). The ending is the one area that up to now I've never had the opportunity to practice.
2) The ending I planned was poorly set-up. That's right, for all the authorial wizardry I claimed to possess in the previous paragraph, apparently I'm still not perfect (I know; it came as a shock to me, too). As I mentioned, I know how I want my novel to end. Not to spoil things, but it's big, epic, emotional... in short, it's bloody perfect. Unfortunately, I didn't give it the foundation a flashy ending requires. This is something I will definitely fix in the rewrite (thank god for rewrites!).
3) Everything was happening too quickly. That big, epic, emotional ending I have planned? As it turns out, it wasn't nearly as effective when I ended up crushing it into three bone-dry pages. I think a lot of people run into this problem. You get so excited about something that your words start going a million miles a minutes, and before you know it, your audience is either hopelessly lost or (worse!) hopelessly bored. On some level, I knew this, and have been painfully, deliberately dragging out my final chapters to avoid falling into that trap. I mean, I'll fix it all later, but still...
So this is where I am, folks. Almost (kind of) done. Don't give up on me, yet!