Question: When is it ever ok to put the cart before the horse?
Or in other words: What do you do with a horseless cart? Much the same question perplexed me when I circled the first blank page of chapter nine. I wondered, How was I ever going to pull that load?
Tons of anxieties, like little darts, pricked at me. What idea could I build on? Could I overcome my nervousness? Would I live up to the expectations of the other accomplished writers on the team? What if they hated my chapter? After all, I was bringing all their hard work to a closure.
Understandably, those all played a part of my perplexities. But, I believe the crux was in the nature of writing a final chapter itself. A person does not wake up one day and simply say, “Hey, I think I’m going to write the last chapter of a novel today.” That’s ludicrous! They begin in chapter one, progress through the mid-section, build to the climax, and deliver the conclusion. But there I was, staring at the first blank page of the last chapter.
I panicked. Inwardly, I felt like an unborn babe, asked to start life in adulthood, bypassing development stage in the womb and infancy where others would dote over me, skipping over toddlerhood where I could run about and cause mischief, and I won’t even discuss the adolescent behaviors I’d forego … But there I was, selected from a hat to bring the work to maturity. As a writer, I did the only thing I knew how: I schemed.
I began by pouring over chapter one, two, and so forth, taking notes. I brainstormed, asking myself questions like: What did all these chapters have in common? What theme was a repeated guest? What could I add that would complement the other chapters in tone, without rehashing previously written material? And I asked a whole lot of other questions.
Many of my bunny trails led to Alice in Wonderland holes, while others led to forks in the road where I had to choose a direction. Messages were exchanged between the other authors and me, discussing characters and plot developments. I must have written a dozen outlines and tossed nearly as many away before finally settling on a feasible one. Even then, after the writing began, I had to constantly recheck previous chapters for facts and re-plan my direction when obstacles popped up. After all that, I still wondered at times if I’d fashioned a suitable cart.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t exchange the experience for anything. Working with the KvP Alumni on this project has been first rate. And my answer to the initial question: “It’s ok to put the cart before the horse when you know the team of horses that will pull it.” Writing chapter nine was not a solitary endeavor. I got to know the 8 chapters that would make “Ageless Dawn” relevant. You could say that I built my cart to order. Not too big, fancy or awkward, but hopefully just right.
But you can be the judge of that when you pick up a copy and take it for a spin around the track. Check back soon for the August publication date!