For my money, the hardest part of writing a book is figuring out where to end it. With my first book, The Redheaded Stepchild, it took me nearly two years to figure out an ending. The book was chiefly about the complicated relationship I had with my ex-stepmother, and even when that relationship was over, it wasn’t really over in my mind, so pinning down an ending was difficult. Even though I could pinpoint our last interaction, it still didn’t feel like “the end” in my mind. So I did what any writer does when they don’t know how to end a story: I picked an ending, and I went with it.
I’m working diligently on the last chapter of my current work in progress, Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to end it. Why? Because this last chapter is the chapter about me, and I don’t know this particular story of my life ends. For those of us who write autobiographically, or semi-autobiographically, as my case may be, endings are unbelievably hard to write. What’s keeping from finishing my book is the decision to either wait to see how my story shakes out, or just make something up.
What do you think? Is making up an ending cheating? Or do I pick an ending and go with it?