For the reader, two words signify the culmination of a literary journey. If the excursion through navigating the pages offers enough intrigue, adventure, and mischance, then those two words may elicit feelings of bittersweet satisfaction. If the experience is grueling, plodding, and outright boring to the point that the reader asks “Are we there yet?,” then those words signify a resigned relief and a desire to never return. If those final words are ever reached at all because the reader gave up by page fifty.
For the writer, those same two words ought to have a similar impact. If the writer is ready to give up by page fifty, then it’s best to choose a different adventure. If the writer views each day’s pages as a drudgery to check-off a to-do list, then why be surprised by rejections and criticism? Writers must be as excited, if not more so, by the turning of each page. The getting-to those two words ought to be as fascinating as a resolved denouement. No doubt, there are moments of fatigue. But, it better be a good-kind-of-tired that comes from pushing limits and resources. Writers ought to provide enough memorable scenes that readers long to return to those people and places over and over again. Writers ought to feel that same bittersweet satisfaction of a culminating literary journey when the last page, that last line is reached. If each story begins with a firm grasp as when shaking the hand of a stranger and becomes like an embrace of a life-long friend, then we–both writers and readers–know we have a kindred spirit in the end.