Wow, what an amazing but anxious summer I’ve had so far! After my agent reviewed my manuscript revisions at the end of June, we had an hour-long phone call. Jessica said I’d done a great job with the revisions and tying up all the loose ends, but she still had a few more suggestions such as including more visuals of the clues that Jocelyn and Noah follow in their search for Jack. This seemed like a great idea, and I spent a lot of time creating them on the computer, which was both fun and challenging.
We also discussed the harder topic: despite all my rewriting she still wasn’t satisfied with how the book ended. We talked about changing it and I was compliant, stuffing down my frustration because I knew if she felt that strongly about it, so would the editors. Instead I agreed to try something totally new, though I didn’t know what that would be.
I put off rewriting the ending as long as I could, focusing on all the other minor items in my manuscript that had to be altered, deleted, or added to, including the visuals for the clues. When I couldn’t ignore those final pages any longer, I started rewriting. The first of those two chapters wasn’t too hard to change, but coming up with a new last chapter was like hitting a stone wall. In fact, I wrote two rough drafts, hated them both, and discarded them.
Frustrated, I couldn’t think of what to do for a new ending, and my anxiety grew. What was the right resolution for Jocelyn and Noah’s relationship? And now that I’d totally scrapped the old ending, how could I make this book as emotionally powerful as it had been while completely changing the final events? It was a dilemma, and by the end of the second day of working on it, I was discouraged and stressed. What if I couldn’t do it? What if the new ending turned out weak and didn’t touch my heart the way the old one had? It would ruin Jocelyn’s story, and I couldn’t stand that.
Then, just before I headed to bed past eleven, an idea for a final plot twist suddenly came to me. I actually saw this envelope in my mind, knew what was inside it and who had sent it, and realized that this was the needed final step of the story. That old, familiar excitement of creativity began to flourish, but I was too exhausted to work on it just then. Instead, I crashed until about two in the morning when my mind clicked open, waking me up as more ideas came to life. That thought process continued for an hour until I dozed off, waking later with even more parts of the story falling into place. Getting up at five, I headed to the computer and excitedly started writing the new ending.
It poured out of me; once again I was simply Jocelyn telling her story. I saw it all: where she was, what she felt, and what must happen for the story to end right and give her what she needed. In that final scene she didn’t cry, but I did. (Well, at least I sniveled; no open weeping.) And by ten that morning I was done, reading the final chapter over and over to check every aspect.
My response? I loved it! I felt that everything in the story had finally come full-circle, and it was surprising to realize Jessica had been exactly right. This was what the manuscript needed, and it was the most powerful ending so far: not just a substitute, but a better ending. I could hardly believe it! What a great feeling it was, like lying on a warm beach after running a marathon and letting the cool sea air blow across me. This was one of those moments when my love of writing was completely renewed.
The next morning, July 11th, I emailed Jessica the new ending, hoping with all my heart that it worked for her because I couldn’t fathom coming up with something else. When her response came back a few hours later, it was even better than I’d expected. She wrote:
“It’s pretty quiet over here today, so I was able to read the ending. LOVE IT. The last few scenes on the island and with Noah had me tearing up!!!”
Since that was my reaction too, I was both relieved and very happy. Soon after, she sent the manuscript off to a number of large publishing houses. That was a couple of weeks ago. Now the waiting game has begun. It’s definitely a time that leaves my nerves on edge, but Jessica has been so supportive and told me she’s “very optimistic” and so I’m holding onto that. I also believe the one truth that has kept me going throughout all this writing process: Jocelyn’s story has to be shared with other readers outside my small circle of friends. It’s not meant to sit on the shelf but needs a wide reading audience. And I believe there’s an editor out there who will see that. This means that hopefully the next post I write will have great news about my new publisher, whoever that might be.