Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Art of Beginning - Wendy Wax

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

The quote belongs to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I came across it when I was looking for quotes about writers and the act of writing, which I used as chapter headings in my upcoming June release, THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER.

That manuscript, about four writers who have been friends and critique partners for a decade, and the lengths they go to to save one of their own when her publishing career and her life begin to unravel, is long finished. In fact, advance reading copies are ready for circulation and the promotion of that book is gearing up.

But, of course, authors are generally on to the next project as soon as the first is written, which is way before it will ever hit bookstore shelves. The more often we get out in front of readers, the better chance we have to build an audience. And so the cycle of beginning and ending is almost continuous. As soon as I finished revising THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER last August, I stared writing my next book, tentatively titled POSTCARDS FROM SUBURBIA. I’ve been working on it ever since.

I’m willing to bet when Longfellow came up with that quote, he was referring to the craft involved in writing the beginning and ending of a novel. I agree that both are critical to the story and have spent huge amounts of time coming up with a first line or paragraph as well as the last.

But at the moment I’m more interested in the feelings attached to these two very different parts of a novel. Because today I actually got to type THE END, which may be my two favorite words in the English language. (Only when they’re joined together, of course!)

I’ve been writing long enough to know that this doesn’t mean I’m finished with this manuscript. I have tons of notes on things I’d like to change and enhance, and I expect to spend the next several weeks, probably right up to the moment the book is due, inserting, deleting, and polishing.

But in my heart, where it matters most, I’m finished. I’ve created characters and a world I hope my readers will relate to and a story that will, hopefully, stay with them after the book is done. The leap of faith I took when I opened that first empty page on my computer has been validated some 425 pages and seven months later.

I’m unbelievably happy to have typed THE END today. Very soon it will be time to begin again.

Wendy Wax
The Accidental Bestseller, Berkley Publishing Group
Coming June 2009


Caroline said...

Hi Wendy - one of the best quotes I ever read was - "There are 3 things you need to know about writing a bestseller - and when I know what they are I'll let you know!" Caroline x

Maureen said...

Congratulations on reaching the end.

Estella said...

Congrats on typing 'The End'.

The Brunette Librarian said...

Congratulations on "The End" :) When you wrote "I’ve created characters and a world I hope my readers will relate to and a story that will, hopefully, stay with them after the book is done" < I am so glad you wrote that...I think that should be every author's purpose and goal. :D There would be so many fantastic things to read.

Enjoyed your blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy. Loved your post!!