Thursday, December 15, 2011

December Theme: The Gift by Bob Krech

The trigger for my first YA novel was a breakfast conversation I had with high school students during a series of meetings about the future of the school district where I worked as a teacher. We talked a lot that morning about school, diversity, race, opportunity, and sports. Some of my favorite subjects. It was interesting to hear how some things had changed since I was in high school and how some things hadn't.

It made me reflect back to my own high school experience as a basketball player and how sports and the interaction of different groups of athletes helped me growing up. On the drive home I thought about an incident I was part of from a basketball game long ago. When I got home I wrote it down, changed it up some, and as I wrote two characters emerged. I began to think about those characters and who they were and what they wanted. I was thinking, maybe this could be a book.

Over the next weeks and months of writing, a story took shape as I moved my characters forward. Things were happening on the page. Events and scenes developed. But, in the back of my head a little bothersome voice, began to say, "Sure, this is nice. But, where is it heading? You know, you don't even have an ending."

Now, I have a personal pet peeve about books having a satisfying ending. I hate investing a ton of time reading a story only to come to the end and find myself thinking, "That's it? That's the end?" I hate stories that just peter out or leave things unresolved. And it is hard to write a good ending! To me the ride is not enough. I want a great ending destination. When I was a teenager I almost gave up on writing because I couldn't craft what I considered a good ending. I managed to get past that and keep writing, but it's always been an issue with me. Now, how could I put a book of my own out there without having an ending I personally considered satisfying. Frankly, I was very worried. Okay. Scared.

A couple of times during the writing of REBOUND I attempted to plot out an ending and think through what a logical and satisfying outcome would be. Nothing came. Or what came was so artificial it made me cringe. I would just have to keep writing to see where it would lead me. As I wrote and revised I came to know my characters better. I could begin to see where things were leading. A terrible climax was emerging. The ensuing conflict was inevitable, but I didn't see any resolution let alone that "killer ending" I hoped for.

I loved this story. I loved these characters. I wanted to give them what they deserved. So I kept writing. I had been told to trust the process and it didn't seem like there was any alternative than to do just that. Or quit.

Then after about a year of writing, working late at night during the winter when the temperature was dropping outside and I was in sweats huddled near the computer, a little something happened. The corners of the room were dark. The house was quiet. Everyone else asleep. I should have been asleep. I was revising a chapter for probably the fifteenth time, bleary eyed, tired, when -- Bam! It just dropped into my lap. A gift!

It was the ending. I saw it like a movie rolling in front of me, everything being played out just the way it should be. I typed furiously until I got the whole thing down. Ten pages just like they were dictated to me from above. You may say it was the inevitable result on spending all that time with my characters, revising those scenes, putting in the hours, or maybe just being cold and delirious, but I'll tell you, that ending sure did feel like a gift to me. One I'll always treasure. And I hope my readers will too.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic story, Bob! You're right, though--gifts like these appear after many hours of hard work...

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