Essay Excerpt: When 'The End' Is Not the End

You clear your calendar. You scratch an outline on a notecard, arrange squares of fluorescent sticky paper on a wall.

You rise at ungodly hours.

You jot story notes at a work meeting, looking engaged, nodding.

You drive home, Bluetooth off, hearing only the sound of your engine — and the voices of your characters talking in your head.

You shut the door on your significant other, saying, “Please, just 30 more minutes.”

You log the day’s word count, accumulate online badges, feel elated when you hit your goal, crushed when you don’t. 

You pray for words, sentences, dialogue, metaphors — for the story not to be terrible.

You keep a pen and notebook by your bed, in case the night gives you a burst of dialogue, or a glimpse of a scene — though you never scratch a word onto its faint blue lines.

You can rise most mornings at 4:00 because you’re the sort of person who keeps a schedule.

You reach The End with days to spare because you’re the sort of person who can’t help but be early.

You have doubts about your work because you’re the sort of person for whom hope and joy does not come easy.

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