Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fear of Finishing

A few years ago I read a lovely essay about the fear of finishing writing a book. It was a brilliant piece that made me own up to the real reason I hadn't ever finished a novel-length story, or any story without a deadline. It made me confront it, and from there I started finishing things. (When I figure out how to finish editing a piece, I'll let you know.)

That's not the kind of finishing I'm talking about today.

There's another kind of fear of finishing: The fear of finishing reading a book, or especially a series.

I read YA almost exclusively, where books are published almost exclusively in trilogies. And I've discovered recently that while I devour the first two books in a trilogy in about a day apiece, I drag my feet on the third book. I just returned two such books to the library after finally admitting to myself that I wasn't going to finish them anytime soon.

There are two reasons I'm afraid (I'll use that word, it's honest) of finishing a series. One, what if it's bad? This fear, I feel, is fully justified. A lot of these books were not conceived as series, and a lot of the series end horribly. See Divergent for an example. I could write an entire series of posts about why I hated Allegiant. If the series turns out to end badly, it will sour my love of the other books in the series. It's hard for me to enjoy Divergent when I wanted to set Allegiant on fire.

The other reason is the much bigger one, the one I think a lot of readers relate to. We don't want the book to end at all. It's like the Eleventh Doctor, who ripped out the last page of the book so it wouldn't have to end. (He didn't like endings.) If I drag my feet through the third book, then it never has to end. I can return it to the library unfinished. I don't have to know how it ended. I can make up a better ending. And I can rest safe in the knowledge that I can go back and read it anytime I want, and it will be new because I never finished it.

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