Destination: Destination.

I’ve found a human writing trampoline who, for the extraordinary price of frustratingly average lunches, lets me bounce ideas off him. He listens and asks questions as I talk through plot points, characters, themes, and other various stumble-grumbles quick to launch themselves over baskets of fries. It is a purely artistic process, one unconcerned with anything other than ideas and the golden threads that hold them together.

Over a recent mediocre salad, I bemoaned to him, “I’ve got everything else. I don’t know how the book ends.” In other words, I’m wandering around this process without a clear destination. Great for Passover and Hobbits, not so great otherwise. (*Raises a glass of wine or four to the Hobbitses among us as they groom their feet for the day’s travel.*)

Ultimately this is why, an obscenely long time after a first draft has been written, dismantled, and reworked into multiple drafts, I’m not done.

There are only so many times you can fiddle with the dials until you have to land the plane. (Although you can write unlimited mediocre analogies involving travel.)

Just that simple and just that hard.

It’s made harder because it is spring, and I have taken up residency in my car, by which I mean I shall complete some sort of degree program in there by the time my children get to summer break. It’s a lot of thinking time. I’ve mostly figured out how to work the talk-to-text app on my phone, with entirely disastrous results that too often are funnier than anything else I could write.

During my 52-minute round-trip drives, the ending has come together after ignoring the usual chattering that my brain prefers to writing the book.

“Am I some sort of human embodiment of a piece of junk mail in the inbox of people’s lives?”

“Can I find a military-grade air freshener for this car?”

“Whoa, we’re halfway there. Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer!”

“What if Chat GPT is funnier than I am?”

Finally, quietly, humbly, “How do I end this book?”

It’s a question that makes me feel…lonely, which surprises me.

 “Let’s engage in a series of If/Then exercises. What are the most reasonable endings based on what you’ve done so far? The most unreasonable? With each option, figure out: What would I have to change, if anything, to get to this ending? How would the major and secondary characters’ stories resolve in this option? What needs to be picked up and dropped off on the way?”

And we hash it out, my brain and I. And the utterly unreliable talk-to-text app and its unwittingly produced gibberish content.

Ultimately, between pickups, drop-offs, track meets, baseball games, field hockey tournaments, and shopping for car air fresheners, I worked out three solid endings and am going with the one I am most excited to write.

It just screams “Brainstorm!” doesn’t it?

I’ll need to go back and make some changes and drop breadcrumbs. Human Writing Trampoline is excited about the ending, which is a good sign.

It just took practically living in my car to figure out where I was going, which is too cute by half, but let’s give my brain a break on that one. It’s been spending a lot of time with me in the driver’s seat of a very smelly vehicle.

PS I’m starting to migrate my work onto Substack. If you’d like to subscribe, here be the linkie. For now, I’ll put the content here and there and also on Medium.

PPS I read phenomenal books last month. April’s reading list is just as solid. What are you reading these days?

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