Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 19 April 2013

The End

I’ve been banging on about finishing my latest book for what seems like weeks now, and I was convinced that it would be finished by today, but, it turns out that it won’t be. 

I am sanguine, mostly because there’s absolutely no point being anything else, but also because the husband and I have actually got a weekend away this weekend, and it’s just for fun, and it’s the first one in two years, and we bloody deserve it. I can’t work this weekend. I can’t get back to the book until Monday at the earliest, so I can’t worry about it.

Work stopped yesterday afternoon when I went to get my hair done, and, naturally, I discussed getting to the end of the book with my hairdresser. He wanted to know whether I wrote ‘The End’ at the end, when I finished a manuscript. I can see why he’d want to know that.

When I was a child, that’s what I used to find at the ends of the books I read, the Famous Five and Secret Seven novels that filled my reading hours in primary school. It seems like forever since I saw those two words at the end of a novel. Now, we mostly seem to get adverts.

Anyway, it made me think about all the things I’m superstitious about when writing.

My biggest problem is that I never know I’m going to get to the end of a book. I never know until I get to the end, and then it comes as a huge relief. I think if I typed ‘The End’ when I thought I’d finished a book there’d be the problem of the read through. It’d be tempting fate to believe that I’d finished when, in fact, I could find all sorts of things that needed sorting out when I read back what I’d done. ‘The End’ wouldn’t mean anything, then, would it? Of course, having written, ‘The End’ I’d then have to wrangle with deleting it and working further on the book, and we all have to work further on all our books. I just don’t think I could stand it! It would be a lie, somehow.

I suppose I could consider writing ‘The End’ at the end of the manuscript directly before sending it to the editor, but then would that jinx the edits? I rarely have to do anything even approaching major rewrites. There might be odds and sods, but I’ve never been invited to change or remove a thread from a story, or mess with the order of events, or add a character or thread, or even change the sex of a character or adjust the time scale. I might just have been lucky, I suppose, but it could be because I haven’t been daft or arrogant enough to add those two little words, centred at the bottom of that final page.

I don’t know if it’s ever the end, not really. There might be a new edition of something with a foreword. There might be an opportunity to proof something again. There might be a sequel. I just can’t help thinking that typing ‘The End’ at the bottom of a page is a terribly bad idea. I haven’t done it yet, and I won’t be doing it any time soon. 

Superstition’s a silly thing, I know, but I defy you to find a writer who isn’t superstitious about something.


  1. if I have my way, I'll finish every book with ...

  2. I like to believe that novels are just a snapshot of events. The world continues on after you reach the final page, even though it isn't written down. To put The End, kinda destroys that reality. The world ceases to exist, nothing else happens. It's very destructive if you think about it.

  3. I was brought up on Enid Blyton too, but I never think about putting 'The End' either. So final! Nothing in the real world ever ends.