It is a rule universally accepted that any item you drop on the floor and need desperately will automatically shrink exponentially in relation to how desperately you need said object. Actually, the entire world is shrinking. The print in newspapers, books and magazines is shrinking. Clothes are shrinking. The only thing that isn’t shrinking is the cost of living and Kim Kardashian’s ego. North West? Really? A name like that should come with a certificate for this little girl to get one free slap to the back of both parents’ heads to be accompanied by the question “What were you thinking??” (One uncle reportedly said “I like the name. It’s COOL. Get it? COOL? North?” Hope the kid got her brains from the other side of the family.)
Where was I? Oh yes! The incredible shrinking dropped object. I recently purchased a new washing machine. This is a source of great excitement for me. (Feel free to think “Man, she needs to get a life!”) I haven’t had a washing machine for a number of years. And before you have visions of a short, fat lady shuffling around like a demented grownup version of Pigpen from Peanuts, I HAVE been taking my clothes to a laundromat for the past eight years. Not fun. So I finally decided I’d had enough and bought this new washing machine. All was going well until I was preparing to hook it to the water source. There is this teeny tiny washer that must go inside the hose before you connect it. WHY they don’t put it in for you, I don’t know. Some plot concocted in China to provide entertainment for factory workers. I am certain there is a mini camera in the washing machine and when you drop said washer and have to look for it, voila, fun for the entire factory family.
I mean what could be more fun than watching a grown woman crawl around on the kitchen floor looking for the incredible shrinking washer? I swept the floor. I crawled every inch of it with a flashlight. I checked the dogs’ mouths, the cats’ mouths – NOTHING. It shrank into oblivion or dropped into the same black hole that swallows my keys, my insurance card, seventeen odd socks and my memory at least once a day. Of course I work in a place that is one stuttering pig shy of a full blow Looney Tunes. That could have something to do with my shrinking memory. What was I talking about?
Oh yes! Finishing a book is a lot like looking for a shrinking washer. You get to a certain point and the entire plot just dries up like an ex-husband’s bank account when it’s time to pay alimony. Or your enthusiasm for the story withers away, like said ex-husband’s … well, you get the picture. Starting a book is easy. That story idea is a washer the size of a hoola hoop. (For the uninitiated a hoola hoop is a toy born in the 1960’s meant to make children exercise and to make adults throw their back out while appearing to be in a full seizure or trying to get a spider off their body.)
Then you get to the middle of your book and the Great Wall of China is erected around the plot.
Your characters turn into teenagers.
Writer : “What’s wrong?”
Character : “Nothing.”
Writer : “Why aren’t you talking?”
Character : “Don’t know.”
Yes, teenagers are the reason I am glad all my kids have four legs and fur. I can spay and neuter them, put them on a leash, and they don’t need a car or a college education, and they usually don’t call home and say “Mom, I need bail money.”
So you’ve dropped the end of your book and you’re crawling around on the floor with a flashlight looking for it while the cat looks at you as if you’ve lost your mind. Oh! Look! Another story idea under the stove. I really need to sweep under there more often. Let’s face it you HAVE lost your mind. You’re a writer. You checked the crazy box on your application the minute you decided to write a book. Stick a fork in your butt. You are done!
So, how do you finish the book when you are fairly certain the book has finished you? How do you make yourself get up off the floor and decide to get your butt to Lowe’s and buy a new washer or do whatever you have to do to get to that holiest of holy places THE END?