I don’t remember the experience of finishing my other novels as being this hard. Granted, I’ve only written two before, so it’s not like I’ve a wealth of experience to draw from, but damn.
Or dam, depending on whether you approve of cursing or not. (Hint: I do.)
Though I’ve been writing at the same rate per day, roughly, writing these last ten thousand words has been really, really difficult. But why? I hear of other writers gathering steam as a novel ends, all the threads coming together in one giant rush. And, yes, when I finished my other two novels, I felt a little bit of that at the end, writing three thousand words the final day rather than two thousand. But this…
It’s different. I think it might have to do with the fact that, with the other novels, I had a clear ending in mind, a concrete mood and tone I was striving to achieve. With JOSEPH WUNDERKIND, I know how the novel ends. Sort of. I know what the solution to the mystery is. Mostly. But that’s not even what’s holding my fingers back from the keys.
It’s fear. A belief that after all this time and all this effort, I’ll screw everything up. That I won’t be able to bring those mythical threads together into any sort of pattern that makes sense and/or is satisfying.
It’s a fear that all writers deal with, no matter how long the project or how experienced the hand (or so I tell myself). I’ll leave you today with how I’m leaving myself, Joseph and Co. finding the entrance to the laboratory, being chased by Caliban, one step closer to figuring out what’s going on and, more importantly, why.
The stairs opened up into a bathroom. Lemon yellow tile covered ever surface and a drain centered the floor. An open shower took up one wall. Against another wall was a sink painted yellow, though the paint was peeling from the humidity, revealing rusting metal beneath.
Something about the specific shade of yellow nagged at Joseph. He sluggishly followed Cindy and Michiko through the single door of the bathroom and the nagging solidified into familiarity. The room they entered was a mock-up of the living room of his parents’ apartment.
“Are you okay?” Cindy asked. Michiko signed to him, but Joseph couldn’t pay attention. She tugged at his leg. He brushed her fingers away as though she were a bothersome fly. “We have to move.”
“I just,” Joseph started. “I’m okay.”
It wasn’t the same as the living room he’d grown up in. The details were different. The flower pattern of the wallpaper was off. The couch and the loveseat were different models and covered in a plaid fabric his parents wouldn’t be caught dead sitting in. But the pattern was the same, as though both rooms were following the same blueprint. The more he looked at the room, the more he saw the differences, until he convinced himself that the similarities were all the product of his homesick mind.
But, as with his parents’ living room, there were three exits. If he were home, the exit to the apartment would be that way, to the right of the couch, underneath the still life of the bowl of kumquats. Cindy was going the opposite direction, the door already open under her hand, Michiko at her side.
But Joseph walked over to the door that lay underneath a still life of a bowl of watermelons. He put his hand on the doorknob. The metal was cold. It felt smooth and new as though it had never been used. He opened the door and air rushed around him into the room beyond where, under cold blue lights glittered an array of esoteric machinery that came fully-formed from a mad scientist’s dream.