Motherhood & Words

when the ending isn’t the ending

The whole time I’ve been rewriting Ready for Air, I assumed it would end the same way my first draft ended. I mean, there is a whole narrative thread that leads to—no, demands—this particular ending to my story.

There was a problem, though. I’ve had several readers—one of them an editor who wanted the book (really wanted it—damn her editorial board!)—who suggested that this narrative thread should be cut from the book. I’ve been told that it’s distracting. I’ve been told that it needs its own book!

But I wasn’t ready to part with it. I felt it gave more texture to my character; I felt it offered necessary contrast to the claustrophobic urgency of the NICU. In the rewrite, I’ve pared it down a bit, but I haven’t been willing to chuck it completely. Because, well, how would the book end, then? I love the ending, and I couldn’t bear the thought of kicking its legs out from under it.

But this very morning I woke with a different ending simmering at the edges of my consciousness. A different ending!

I don’t know if it will work yet. I have to sit with it a while, let it percolate as I make my way closer and closer to the final pages. And when I get to there I hope I’ll know—I have to know, right?—which ending will best serve the book.

I would keep my fingers crossed, but then it would be difficult to type. And I still have lots of work to do. So will your cross your fingers for me? Send me perfect-ending vibes?

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Andrea on July 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Endings are so hard. But so are beginnings. And middles. And titles.

    Good luck! Crossing my fingers for you!

  2. caro on July 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Oooh, exciting. Sending ending vibes.

  3. Life As I Know It on July 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    fingers crossed for you, for the right ending, the right words, the right inspiration.

  4. Kate on July 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Fingers and toes all crossed!! And lots of good vibes headed your way:)

  5. Leightongirl on July 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Well, of course that it's now come to you, you will have to make it happen. But you knew that, right? Even so, as you feel your way, know we are right here, holding your metaphorical hands in support. Good luck! (I'm so excited!)

  6. cath c on July 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    if crossing my fingers works for you, would you mind doing a little of the same for me to smooth out the transitions where i shifted paragraphs to new parts of my manuscript, please?

  7. Cecilia on July 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Oh, this is exciting! I hope it works for you – please keep us posted. I honestly would so love to read your memoir one of these days.

    I've been away (physically and mentally, ha ha) and I want to catch up soon on your posts. Thanks so much for your sweet comments on my blog last month! I hope you're well, Kate.

  8. unfinishedportraitofsam on July 27, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    absolutely. i'm so excited for you! almost there. : )

  9. kate hopper on July 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks, everyone. It's coming, slowly.

    Cath, I'll send good vibes your way, as well!

  10. Amber on July 28, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    That's exciting, Kate! I just feel your new energy!

  11. Sarah on August 5, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I'm sending positive vibes and crossing my digits too. I'm excited to read the whole thing some day!