The Final Stretch

by Cooper Young

Two days ago, Riga Far-fallen woke up for the very last time.

Now, I wrote the section that I’m currently re-tweaking for the millionth time some months ago, but I know that this is the last time I’ll go through it before I finally- finally- write the end of Descent.  There was never any question about whether or not Riga would survive the book; even in the original, bare-bones rough draft- which was much more a coming-of-age story than an exploration of the emotional politics of death- didn’t let her out alive.  The dream which inspired the short story which preceded even that focused solely on the final moment.  This, the coming few days of writing, is what everything over the past three and a half years has been building toward.

Yet in spite of the intentions I’ve had all along, I can’t help but feel rather nervous and sad.  I don’t know whether it’s the prospect of finally killing off a protagonist I’ve spent so long trying to get to understand  or of ending the single longest literary project I’ve ever attempted,  but whichever it is it’s…scary, almost.  I’ve been trying not to think too much about it, because whenever I do I hear the question “And then what?” at the back of  my mind.

My sophomore year of college, I took a “20th Century British Literature” course in which we discussed Virginia Woolf.  The professor mentioned that her depressive periods almost always corresponded with either the death of a family member or the completion of a book.  He said he couldn’t understand the latter case; relief seemed like a much more appropriate reaction.  At the time, I could see both perspectives.

I don’t know that I can anymore.

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