I may very well be the most procrastinatin' slowpoke story-nonfinisher of a Hosted Author at this whole place. And I know I've driven a bunch of you crazy with my slow pace. Heck, I've probably driven some of you away with my slow pace.
But I'm here to say that the conclusion to Crosscurrents will be posted some time tomorrow. You have no idea what a relief this is to me. Talk about your albatross. On the one hand, anyway. (See below.)
Many if not most of you know that I've had the final chapter and epilogue of Crosscurrents written for months.
But I didn't like what I had. I couldn't put my finger on what I didn't like; I just didn't like what I had.
So I started all over on those last two segments, not even consulting the previous versions. Trying not to even think about them.
And whaddya know? I got it told the way I want to tell it.
Not saying it's a masterpiece. I'm just saying I'm good with letting the final chapter and epilogue stand as I've written them. They do what I want them to do. What I couldn't get the previous attempts to do.
The epilogue in particular pleases me, because even in its conceptual stages--and all the way through the writing of the first version of it--I didn't like it. And that's bad. An epilogue has to be the capstone of the whole damn novel, right? And it just wasn't. It was going to piss off readers. It was going to leave them going, "Huh?" And going, "WTF?" And going, "Well, that sucks. Ten years I waited for that?"
I may still get some of that. But at least when people say it, I won't agree.
The story's going to end as it needs to. And I think as I've written it, it'll please many people who were not going to be pleased with the original epilogue.
I've said that the conclusion to CC will be "inconclusive." It's still going to be inconclusive. It's still going to want a sequel, and it's still going to get a sequel. But it's the kind "inconclusive" that will allow the Faithful Reader to close the book--so to speak--satisfied.
I've also told readers for years who were demanding surcease from Matt's drama and pain and a happy ending for him (they don't give a rip about Andy, and that's as it should be) that the ending wouldn't make them want to slit their wrists. That was the best I could do for them. I couldn't promise a happily-ever-after ending, because that's not how Crosscurrents ever imagined itself closing out. And anybody who took the Prologue seriously should never have even bothered to ask for a giddy-happy ending. The Prologue simply won't allow it. The Prologue, and the reality behind it, made that impossible.
But. But, but, but.
Everything lies in the freakin' delivery of the inconclusiveness. Not comparing myself to Margaret Mitchell or David O. Selznick, but that final scene in Gone With The Wind hasn't left decades of viewers grumbling about the ending. And it feels like the end of a movie. And It's damn inconclusive. And that's just fine.
Day before yesterday it fell from the sky into my head how I needed to write the epilogue. After ten years of telling myself "I'll think about that tomorrow," and then refusing to think about it because I didn't know how to freakin' close the thing out in any way that was going to be remotely satisfying...it just came to me. And the weird thing is, it's not all that different from my previous thoughts and plans and attempts, all of which disgusted me. That tiny bit of difference, it turns out, makes all the difference in the world.
Now that I've oversold and overhyped, you're going to read the Epilogue and go, "What's so great about that?" And the answer is, "Nothing." In the same way, when I first tasted my first cup of coffee made from the Geisha varietal--specifically the Hacienda la Esmeralda from Panama--It had been so overhyped, I went..."Well, yeah, it's very good, but...but...it's not the Second Coming. It's not God in a Cup."
So in the same way, when you actually get to read the epilogue, you're likely to be underwhelmed because of my blather. I'm just warning you. What I'm saying is not that in writing the second version of the epilogue I became Steinbeck redivivus. I'm just saying that for years and years I couldn't get it like I wanted. For ten years, I couldn't even envision it like I wanted. And now it's come to me. Now it feels like the end of a book. Now it won't send readers screaming at me for an immediate sequel because Volume One was so unsatisfying. And that's good, because I'm not going to get to that sequel for a few books. Andy and Matt need a rest.
Couple of other things.
1) I'm gonna have to bypass my three proofreaders this time. I want it posted as quickly as I can get it posted. That means I don't have time to run it by my three proofreaders. Sorry, proofreaders. Wish you were here, lol. But I'm not sending you stuff and then pressuring you to get the damn thing turned around in five hours.
2) The chances are good that I'm not going to make my self-imposed Sunday-right-before-midnight deadline. These last two segments need the vernix scraped off in the worst kind of way--they're not bathed and pretty-smelling and swaddled in a receiving blanket yet; they're straight from the matrix--and Sunday evening is family time. And that's sacrosanct.
It's not impossible that I'll meet my deadline. But I'm more likely to get them posted Monday. Maybe Monday at 2 AM. Maybe Monday at 10 PM. But not later than Monday.
I feel kinda weird. Talk about your long, strange trip. I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to Crosscurrents. As I've more and more lately been willing to admit, CC is essentially autobiographical. In spite of the bi-jockboys-fall-in-love cliche. In spite of the people who say "No way bi guys ever get with all those straight guys like that." Look, how the hell was I to know I was a walking stereotype? I prefer to think of myself as exemplifying an archetype. But, you know, I don't care if you think my story is autobiographical, or if you think in real life I'm an obese woman living in a double-wide with two ducks. The story's the thing, and anyway, I've been pretty reticent about passing this thing off as anything but fiction until the last couple of years.
But I digress. What I was gonna say is that Crosscurrents has been a part of my life since 2003. And now I'm bidding it farewell. I'm ambivalent about that. I'm not sure I like it. Still, 2013 is apparently my Year To Say Goodbye on a number of fronts. It sucks...but this goodbye, at least, doesn't suck so bad. I accomplished the goal I'd set of telling the story of my best friend and of my adolescent confusion. And that is immensely satisfying.
I've made so many e-friends and acquaintances along the way. And, maybe more importantly, I've heard from so many people for whom Crosscurrents resonated deeply with their own experience. Over and over again, readers told me how deeply they've been touched by what I've written. What could possibly be more gratifying for a writer? Some of you know that I write for a living these days. One of several income streams. And I want to say that there's nothing in my career-writing that can remotely compare. That's just food on the table, a roof over my head. With Crosscurrents, I'm not even thinking about profit. It's one guy's heart touching other hearts. And apparently I've done that. Over and over and over again.
Thanks for walking with me on the road, Faithful Readers. And if you're willing to keep walking, I think I have some new places for us to explore. I'm far from done.