I typed THE END THE END THE END across the page, saved everything in several places, closed the computer. That was it for the first draft of my novel. I’d close it down formally the next day, with additional back-up, notes, and ideas for further development.
An hour later, the story was calling to me from the top of the stairs. I’d put it to bed, tucked it in well, but it got out. Over and over, Story chanted what it knew would get to me.
There’s a better ending!
I gave the dog his dinner, went to the bottom of the stairs. Go back to bed, I told Story. We’re going to have a great time tomorrow going through everything, but first you need to go to sleep.
I’m not sleepy, Story whined. And I have all these great ideas whizzing around. Come on, can I stay up just a little bit longer? Change the ending to this and you’ll love it!
Story called down the ending. I listened even though the dog was moaning by the door. He was ready to chase wild turkeys out of his yard. I let the dog out, listening to what Story said.
It was a better ending.
I tucked story back into bed, kissed it on the forehead and closed the door just so there was enough light so it didn’t get scared of the dark.
I dashed down the stairs, let the dog back into the house, and jotted down the idea. And that would weave perfectly with the beginning, forming a marvelous symmetry and then I could drop in hints…
There’s an even better ending!
Story sat on the top step of the stairs, getting ready to slide down on its bottom. Eyes pleading, it urged me to listen — promising it would only take a couple of minutes or maybe an hour to get this great ending down on the page.
Don’t make me come up there again, I called. Story’s eyes filled and its quivering mouth wailed “You don’t love me anymore!”
That’s not true, I told it, coming up stairs to tuck it back into bed. I love you so much that I’m going to put you back to bed. We’re going to have a great time tomorrow going through everything, but first you need to go to sleep.
I picked it up, carried it to its room, settled into bed with a kiss, closed the door just right. Story blew out a heavy sigh. You promise? Tomorrow?
I told Story I loved it, promised that we’d have a terrific time tomorrow. I’d listen to every single thing it said, jot down notes, and save everything in multiple places. What’s more, we’d decide what I had to learn, what research I needed to do to help Story emerge as its strongest, most beautiful self. Story could have hot chocolate with whipped cream, make a mustache, and say everything it wanted. Story grinned, eyes shining bright.
I stood at the top of the stairs, listening for footsteps, hearing instead a happy sigh as Story went to sleep.
Hey, Writer, Writer, Writer!
A new voice called to me. This time it came from the bottom of the stairs. The dog sniffed it with suspicion.
In its wispy new Story voice, this newcomer said: That first draft to sleep yet? I know you guys have a lot of work to do tomorrow, but after that let’s you and me get together.
Have I got an idea for you!