Friday, June 05, 2020

Writing: The Two Hardest Parts

As I recall, in one Parker book, his protagonist--Spenser--tells his "sweetie"--Susan--that if she's running only two miles, she's running the hardest two: the first and last one. Her reply is classic. "If I didn't run those, I'd never run any." Whether walking, running, or even writing, the hardest part is always starting out and finishing. But if we didn't do that, we'd never do anything at all. If I didn't start, it would never get done.

While walking in the neighborhood this morning, I was reminded of one of my columns, in which I talked about running the two hardest miles--the first and the last. That came to mind because I noticed that, since I don't like to walk some days, getting started was the hardest part.

I've been trying to start another book--actually, I have two I've been working on--but neither has the "zing" I wanted. One is a book about a doctor who's a failed baseball player. It's dear to my heart (for so many reasons), but as my wife pointed out, it's mainly of interest to me.

The other begins with a bang, and involves a nurse who gets a phone call from the ER that her mother has been brought in with a possible heart attack. I think I have an idea where this one goes from here. If so, that's part of my job. The rest is going forward toward what my friend, Jim Bell, calls a "knock-out ending." If I can do this, you'll see the book after the first of the year. But first, that all-important "last mile." And those that go between.

Do you agree that the first and last mile are the hardest?


Priscilla Bettis said...

I can see how beginnings and endings can be difficult, but I struggle with mushy middles, second-act stuff.

Richard Mabry said...

I rarely have a solution for the sagging middle when I start a book, but somehow the Lord seems to provide one when its needed. (And it usually comes at the half-way point--I've checked.)

Patricia Bradley said...

I agree in part. Beginnings are the hardest part for me. And except for one book, I've never had trouble with my ending. On that one, I simply didn't know how to get the bad guy caught. lol Great post...and I'd be interested in a story about a failed baseball player who became a doctor. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

I'll give you half-credit, but am pretty peeved that you have no problems with endings--maybe you can end my next one for me. And several people have liked the one about the failed baseball player who went into medicine. Why knows. Maybe next time.

Patricia Bradley said...

If it makes you feel any better, the one I had trouble with--I had to brainstorm with my agent to get the ending. lol