So, it was April 19th of 2011, that I wrote what was to be the last word of my book. I could sense it coming as I got to within a few pages of it. Seeing as how this manuscript was accepted by a publisher before it was completed, I knew that they had a guideline of 115,000 words. I finished a chapter and checked my word count. 108,000 give or take. I realized that I would not have an adequate amount of words left available to me to do justice to the next chapter so I had to revise my thinking. At that point I was unsure how I would leave the book but some sort of “cliff hanger” seemed appropriate. (Sorry, I hate reading books with cliff hangers when the next book in the series hasn’t been released. But my options seemed limited.) So I came up with a tentative scenario and continued to click away at the keyboard.
The scene of the final chapter started to materialize as I chipped away at it and suddenly I seemed to sense the ending was approaching. I kept typing, determined not to rush toward it but I was excited. I had whittled at the idea for this story for ten years, coming up with what became my first three chapters. Then I had pounded the story for five months, writing with a forced diligence to craft something that could be publishable. Sitting in my office, nearing midnight, I envisioned the final sentence, paced myself and approached it stealthily, afraid it might sense me and bound away into the cover of darkness. Not a chance. I reached the final sentence, my chest actually tightening somewhat and with a slight shortness of breath, typed in the final key with a flourish. Done!
I sat there for a moment, stunned. I had to tell my wife. I went into the bedroom and gently shook my wife. And again. And again a little harder. “Hmmm?” she mumbled. “I’m done,” I said, “I just wrote the last word.” “Good job honey,” she said and tried to kiss me, missing by about three feet. Then she promptly fell asleep again.
I walked out to the living room and turned around in circles a few times, unsure what to do next. Should I call someone? Post something on Facebook? Shake up a celebratory beer and spray it around the living room? Instead I went in and turned off the computer and went to bed. Thankfully, because it was so dark and everyone else in the house was asleep, no one could see the big stupid grin on my face as I lay there, unable to sleep.