The time has come.

I have groomed the juiced-up chapters and thought my choices through (this last, a process that seems never to end.) I have caught up with myself; have reached the place where changes are behind me and the last two chapters wait ahead.

Christmas eve day was spent finishing the previous section and preparing the page to receive the next. The process of preparation always has several stages—two at least: A chapter-titled document holds all notes, all thoughts, until the thing is finished. The construct is the extracting and assembling of those notes into an emotional- and plot-logic.

We’re not even talking about the individual plot segments that will wind up extracted from the construct and isolated on pages of their own…all the better to work out experimental revisions without the burden of an increasingly long document. Whatever. This was Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day was the breathless part; the joyful, oogie-making part…the putting of the notes in the approximate order in which they’ll appear in the final version. A lot of uncertainty, here. A lot of flotsam and repetition. A lot of dross.

And, if I’m lucky, a few diamonds.

In this construct, a shape starts to appear. Bottomless pits gape in one’s path. Hunks of logic are found missing. Or, as happened yesterday, the thing starts to pick up momentum on its own…a sign that something is going wonderfully, mysteriously right.

These are the thank-the-stars-for-leftover days. The don’t-talk-to-me days. The days in which one is afraid to make a loud noise or put a foot wrong, at the peril of shattering the spun-sugar castle in the head. I have special holiday gift thanks to send to friends (Kyle and Ashley, you are waaaaay up there on that list), but I am in idea-land. I beg your patience—thanks will have to wait.

One takes a deep breath at the edge of this bungee-jump step. One is excited and scared. One has an incredible sense of déjà vu. And dread.

No mistake, no illusions, two chapters left is not the same thing as “finished.” Polishing still lay ahead…a holistic look at the entire 400 pages…the work of building pace and filling in potholes, of trimming away the ragged edges and assigning meaningful spaces to the two-dozen notes that now sit at the beginning of the manuscript. In other words, no time to pull up mental stakes and head off to the movies. Not yet.

There will be pain ahead. There will be smiling. And then there will be the next book…and the process that will start all over again.