I’ve been re-reading Stephen R Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The second habit, ‘Begin with the end in mind’, has several layers of application for me. In terms of my work, I need to focus on my end-goals for my career as an author, which means I’ll be saying no to that tempting but distracting job I got offered last week. In terms of the writing itself, ‘begin with the end in mind’ is about the most profound advice I can give fiction writers.
For flash fiction especially, it is the end that marks the master from the apprentice, for the end is the bursting truth of a short story. In any length of fiction, however, even when I think I’m starting a story with an opening, the truth is I’m starting with a vision of the ending. The inspiration for a story comes from that end-goal, and it pulls me forward. It is the climax, and the rest of the story must be designed to set up and support the final emotional note. Some writers hate outlining, and I believe it is because they are intuitively hearing that distant ending call them forward and it guides their path.
Covey also says of his second habit that ‘all things are created twice.’ I know what this means, as well. Revision, revision, revision. To get to the end, I have to go back and start at the beginning, multiple times.
So back to the grindstone now, fellow writers. Let us remember our endings, for as TS Eliot said, ‘In my end is my beginning.’