Writing the Last Chapter for the First Time

Endings can be a relief.

Endings can be new beginnings.

Endings may not be endings at all.

Writing the last chapter of All Light and Darkness was all three of these for me.

All Light and Darkness is my first complete novel. I’ve attempted writing novels since I was fifteen years old. I’ve started many. Many many many… But finished none. I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to continue to the end. I’ve completed many short stories, just not novels.

All Light and Darkness has been my WIP for over three years now. I finished my first 1st draft in December 2019, but the entire back end of the novel was more of an idea than actual chapters written. Now, those chapters are written and they even progressed through writing group. I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment because now it’s a complete story, but it’s not as exciting as I thought it would be. Probably because there are major revisions to be done, and honestly, I find those revisions a more exciting prospect than writing the last chapter of my first draft.

(But still, I wrote the last chapter of my first first draft! Woot! (yes, I know “woot” is outdated, but I like it. So, WOOT!))

This ending is a new beginning too because it sets up Book 2 of the Menschklik series. That, of course, is very satisfying to me. And also extremely intimidating. I often kick myself for not making ALAD a stand alone. But there are people he needs to meet; mistakes he needs to make; changes he must go through. I love his character and I love the people who love him and I don’t want to cheat them out of a story because I don’t feel adequate.

(Don’t worry, all authors seem to have these mental lapses. We’re not crazy. I promise. Really…)

And, of course, this endings is not an ending at all because there’s much work to be done. I loathe first drafts. They are the ugly dirty thing I keep under the bed and hope my mom never checks. The revisions though… The revisions are cutting and polishing gems. It’s beautiful, hard, honest work, and it drags that dirty ugly thing out from under my bed and makes it into something that glitters.

(I just hope that glitter comes from diamonds and emeralds and not sequins and glue.)

Anyway, because writing it a discouraging and arduous task, during which writers fluctuate between preposterous egoism and crippling imposter syndrome, I wanted to take this moment to indulge. I want to pat myself on the back. I want to say, good job Amy, you did something hard. You did something that makes you feel exhausted and frustrated and overjoyed. You did something terrifying, and you loved it anyway.

Good job. Keep going. You can do it.


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