I woke this morning to the thunder of a train passing on the high track above the river, a bizarre, neon-pink patch of cloud in an otherwise grey sky, sunlit patches of river moving in the wrong direction with the feeding of small fish, and a head thoroughly determined to confound me.
Chalk it up to the time change. Or the lingering vibes of the Oklahoma earthquake. Or the advance psychic tremor of the asteroid due to pass close to the earth tomorrow. Or a few unresolved questions that are disturbing my personal space-time fabric. But—even at this pre-seven a.m. hour—this is already one strange day.
My fiction writing is visited by the fidgets. I sit determined to find the idea that will make this short chapter shine. I nag and pout, cajoling the created world that has, for the moment, shut the door in my face. I look to wrap it around me, warmth in this cold mental November. Not so, the advertising writing: In extremis, the sheer craft takes over, and tells me exactly what needs to be done amidst those promises and obligations I’ve taken on.
But the book (and today, it’s “the damned book”): This close to the ending, I’m scared. Not of finishing. But of how I’m finishing.
This is not an ending of hero-with-explosion-in-the-background. Not an ending where lovers clinch. Not an ending where the bad guys get all shot to hell and goodness and justice triumph and all goes right with the world. This is an ending that treads the fine line between this world and all worlds; the line between physical and metaphysical. A kind of Stephen Hawking meets Bodhisattva disguised as Stanley Kubrick.
The meaning of everything. The ending I’ve been envisioning from the first. A near-impossible challenge…and one for which I have no fixed star of precedent on which to focus.
If this is the cause, every word in this post ’til now has been the effect. Where is the certainty I should be feeling now? Where is the hard-eyed commitment to my own vision?
Or am I just hopelessly muddled, in love with a bad idea? Have I been lying to myself all along?
At moments like these, the story should be fertile ground; the ideas, a shovel; the task as straightforward as digging the hole and planting the tree.
Perhaps this is a price of growing up with TV shows in which every problem gets resolved in an hour and makes the world right once again. Maybe a doubtful impasse like this is part of the evolutionary demands of coming winter that want us to den-up, hibernate and put the world away.
Or maybe the ending is just a bad idea.
Still, how could an otherwise-good brain have been lying to us all along? How could the thing that has driven the notes with such promise have turned so quickly into compost? And what is the answer that lay beyond the answer—without turning into who-chases-who-with-a gun?
No birth without pain, I know. No clarity without confusion. But damn…shouldn’t the task be easier by now? And after all this time, how can I trust a tricky little brain that still takes delight in undermining me? How can I be sure that my own head is not an unrepentant, skulking liar?
The answer: I can’t. Next question.