I know exactly where I was when I knew the title of my novel and I know exactly where I was when I thought of the last line.
For the first, I was in the kitchen, my laptop on the counter in the corner by the dining room. The music was on and I was pacing and writing and feeling it physically and getting down the words. The phrase rolled out, those four words in a row, Shaking Out the Dead, and I knew there would be no more “working titles.”
For the last, I was in my studio behind the house, my strange little room where I was strange ol’ me. The sentence fell in a heartbeat. I wasn’t on the page. I was standing mid-pace in whatever space that is fiction writers go. I wasn’t at the last line yet. But that was it.
So the title didn’t come first and the last line didn’t come last. They both came in the middle. Maybe in cosmic talk that’s where the beginning and end always meet, where the snake swallows its tail.
The characters from that novel stepped into my kitchen, one at a time, to testify. This time (current work-in-progress) they seemed to appear as a group and are getting teased out from the cluster. We’ll see who’s who.
Because now I have the experience of writing one novel, a thing that I know is that whatever I think the point is and whomever I think the good guys and the bad guys are, it may not be – it’s most likely not – going to be what I think.
K.M. Cholewa is author of Shaking Out the Dead and her writing on marijuana science and politics has appeared in Salon. For more, visit her author website.