Final Days and Final Chapters

This is it.

In more ways than one.

The final days of Camp NaNo are here. Only three days left to write to get the win. Now is the time to push hard and commit yourself to losing sleep if you still have a long way to go. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?) Now is definitely the time to panic and make a mad dash for the finish line as you curse to yourself for procrastinating so much earlier in the month.

My brain to me: If you hadn’t procrastinated so much and stuck to your self-imposed day off work goals, do you realize how many words you could have had by this time? Do you realize how far you’d be in Clockwork Heart too?

*Dead stare* Unfortunately my brain has a point. I really did slack this month on Camp. If I had stuck to my self-imposed 5k word goal days on the days I have off work, I would have had 60k alone just from those days already, 70k by the 30th. And that wouldn’t be including my word sprint days or any words I wrote on work days.

Sixty thousand words! If I had just held myself more accountable throughout the month, and stopped hesitating and being so unsure about finishing the novel. But no, I essentially screwed myself this month.

The funny thing is… Okay, maybe it’s not funny, but more like a distant sobbing moment of yelling at myself. Anywho, I’ve said throughout this month I had hoped for a repeat of last year’s Camp NaNo in April where I did 61k in a month. My Facebook “On this day blah-blah years ago…” throwback post ended up showing me my win status from last year’s Camp NaNo in April today, when I did that 61k.

I looked at it and just started sobbing internally, wishing I could have done that again. I validated two days early last year, with that 61k, and somehow managed 128 pages and completed six and a half chapters, plus starting a new one.

I’m nowhere close to that this year.

I wonder if part of my reluctance this month to write was not just because I was going to finish the novel and that both scared and excited me, but also because I hate splitting my NaNo project into two separate novels. It’s weird to me to do that. I don’t know why, I’m just strange like that, and a bit of an OCD nit picker.

Even though I didn’t get to up my goal at all this month, I’m more than likely still going to run into the issue of needing a thousand to two thousand words of…something to hit goal.

Maybe…

I don’t know for sure. Right now the only thing I know for sure is I want to rip my hair out on this final chapter. It’s…ugh. I don’t even have words anymore except a fluent, colorful string of curses and some screaming.

The chapter is worse than sucking now.

It still feels fake and forced, and there’s still no bang to it or tension like I envisioned. The scene in my head is not flowing out through the fingertips in the slightest. It’s maddening, it’s infuriating. I’m so damn frustrated over this chapter that I was inches away from deleting it to start over Wednesday night.

And I don’t do that. I don’t delete to start over. That’s what editing is for.

Believe it or not on top of the this total hell week of work — no it has not gotten any better at all, let’s just say that by Wednesday I had more hours on the clock than my boss, and I’ve still got one more shift tonight — I did manage to do some writing Wednesday night with a friend, about a thousand words I think. And…

Well, the writing went something like this:

-*Is writing*
-*On the final chapter of Book 1*
-*Nothing is going according to plan or how I can see it in my head*
-*Mentally starts to throttle both my main characters*
-*Whole chapter feels forced, fake, and non-directional; hate every bit of what I’m writing*
-*Keeps writing anyways because that’s what you do*
-*Starts to think I’m finding the groove finally and getting on track*

Five minutes later….

-*One main character says something they shouldn’t, and AREN’T, supposed to make known*
-*Starts swearing like a sailor*
-*Bashes head off wall*
-*Throttles characters even more*
-*Stops writing and leaves lengthy ranting note to rewrite the whole damn thing because I give up on this chapter because it royally sucks monkey balls*

Yeah…

I’m that frustrated with Chapter 41.

Never before have I been this fed up and frustrated with a chapter. Never before have I wanted to delete something so badly and start over with it. Never before have I said I’m skipping the chapter and moving on to the next one because I don’t do that.

But guess what?

That’s exactly what I’m doing for the first time.

I don’t know why this chapter is so hard to write, but it is driving me insane. Is it because it’s the final chapter of the book? The big cliffhanger ending and the final show down? Is it because I know if the ending is no good then no one will want to read Book 2? Is it because I need it to be perfect because it’s the end of the first book?

Whatever the reason is for this chapter being so damn hard I am still ripping my hair out and screaming over it. It’s a miracle I didn’t throw something (like my laptop) Wednesday night when I got to the point of giving up on it. I was ranting up a storm.

One friend offered to take a look at the chapter and give me any pointers or opinions, and surprisingly — after a lot of hesitating — I finally agreed. I mean, I’ve never showed a whole chapter of Fated to Darkness to anyone before. This story is my heart and soul, this series is my heart and soul of writing. I was terrified out of my mind to show it to someone, especially completely unedited, and especially because it sucks monkey balls in my eyes.

But perhaps that was part of my problem. I’m so close to it and in knowing what it should be, that I can’t see what it really is. So eventually I agreed and sent the chapter to her for a fresh set of eyes. To my complete and utter dumbfounded shock, they actually liked it. That for a first draft they found it pretty good, and with coherent thought.

I was…speechless.

Hell, I’m still speechless over that.

Granted, they didn’t know the full context of the rest of the book since this was the very end, so it’s hard to give more specific pointers or opinions, but just the fact that they said they liked it and it was pretty good for a very first draft with no editing yet blew me away. I will admit it lessened my frustration and doubt a little. It lifted my confidence just enough that I debated on continuing to write the chapter as it was with my character’s blunder to see where it went, but I haven’t. I’m reluctant to let that train continue because I know she was not supposed to let known what she did.

It can’t happen. Just can’t.

So that leaves me back at square one on wondering what to do about the chapter.

Another friend suggested two things: Either keep writing and see where it leads me, or stop and write another version of it where the screw up moment doesn’t happen.

Writing a second version of a chapter is something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been reluctant too because I think that makes for a double headache in the editing phase, and I also believe that if your second version happens in the middle of the book, it can royally mess with details all throughout the rest of the book. That was a maze of confusion and editing nightmares that I did not want.

If I end up rewriting and changing some things in edits later, fine, I’ll deal with the out of place or missing details then, but I’ve never wanted the hair pulling of multiple options to edit with.

However, for the fact this is the final chapter of the novel and a second version wouldn’t affect anything more than the Epilogue perhaps, I’m toying with the idea of writing a second version just to see what happens. There’s a chance the second version and first version could both have the parts I need combined to be what I’m looking for. I think I’m starting to lean toward writing a second version just to see where it takes me.

Even if it’s complete and utter shit too at least it’s words written for Camp and provides me with more options or ideas for when I come back to it in edits. I mean, once I finish the chapter it will sit for a long time before I reach it again, and by then I might have fresh eyes on the crap I wrote and not find it as big a pile of crap as I think it is now.

Who knows, and I won’t know until I get to that point.

She also gave me another piece of advice that I think I need to print and frame and hang where I can see it every day:

BoCFoK!

Butt on Chair, Fingers on Keyboard.

(Read the link, it’s like a mini pep talk. Which is exactly why I need to print and frame it. Thank you, P.T.)

Right now though I still need 5,669 words to hit goal for Camp, with only three days left and one more work shift to go. So I better put my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard as soon as I can. I’m hoping that final 5.7k of words will entail only Fated to Darkness, but I’m not sure the characters will manage that, and I don’t want to be dragging things out just to make that happen. On the other hand, I still don’t know what I can finish with if I need more words because I’m reluctant to do a thousand or so of Clockwork Heart this late in the month.

I think what I’m going to do is skip forward and write the Epilogue to see how that goes, and to put some distance between myself and Chapter 41. Depending how many words are left at that point I’ll go back and try to write a second version of that last chapter. At the very least I’ll skip the hard part of the chapter right now and write the very end of it, because I know exactly how that part goes down. I’ve known how those final pages end since the very beginning of this novel. I can at least write that part without issue I know, and then find a way to tie it all together in edits.

But as soon as I finish the Epilogue and that little bit, I have officially finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness, Book 1 of The Dark Heir chronicles.

I’m oh so close…

Now I’m just praying the Epilogue doesn’t give me as much trouble as Chapter 41 has, because I know it’s going to be a bit tricky to write as well. Cross your fingers for me and wish me luck for smooth sailing on the Epilogue because this is it.

This is the final days of NaNo, and this is the final chapters of Fated to Darkness. If my next post isn’t a declaration of a win and the completion of this novel, then my dear followers, do smack me.

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