Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Last Three or Four Pieces

Anyone that's been following this blog (or knows me) knows that I've been working on a single novel for a long while. Oh - I've done other things in between, of course. Went back to school, wrote short stories, wrote some flash and some memoir, even published it. I'm currently working on another article requested by an online magazine. But the novel.... it is the novel that will not end.

I've lost count how many revisions I've done on this story. Nine total and complete rewrites, beginning to end, I think, besides the smaller chapter revision. I've changed characters, I've changed plots, I've changed the title. I thought I was finished two years ago and then decided I wasn't really happy with it. It was okay. But it was not great. I started over, from scratch.

It got messy. Not in a bad way. Maybe not messy so much as complicated. I tend to be a simple writer. Tell a story beginning to end, one narrator. This story is different. I have two narrators who each know a separate set of truths and facts. There is a gun that gets lost, then found, then stolen, then used, and someone knows why and by whom, but not the narrators. There is a key to a bank box, but no one knows what is in it except the woman who is killed. There is a cryptic letter. There's an alibi that makes no sense. There are lots of people who know things they aren't telling.

There are, in short, pieces of puzzle that look nothing like a complete picture. I've spent the better part of a year spreading out these pieces, like clues that don't seem to have an answer.

But I've now gotten to the end of the book, and I'm putting those pieces together.

It is glorious.

I admit I was a bit panicky for a while, not sure how it would all fit together.  But now I can see the entire picture, and it's that same feeling you get putting together one of those 5,000 piece puzzles and seeing what it looks like and having in your hands just the last three or four pieces that will make it whole. That. 

I'm still not done, but I'm closer than I've ever been. Closer than I was when I had it "finished" the eight times before, because this time I know it's right. This time, I let it get messy and complicated and it is so, so much better for it.