I figured out why I've been having such a hell of a time with the ending of this book. Somewhere deep down in my subconscious, the writerbrain knew that what I thought needed to happen didn't work, was historically messy, and was overcomplicated.
So my brain was refusing to move past the part where I would have to commit to the wrong course of action.
I wonder if I would have seen this sooner if I weren't operating on four hours of sleep a night.
Something happened to me tonight--something involving a silly short story I wrote for some friends, just for the hell of it, because I wanted to make them happy--that reminded me that I do in fact know how to write. And more than that, that my subconscious knows how to write, and can put together a perfectly nice little narrative with very little prompting from the conscious eBear. (That trick only took sixteen years to learn.)
And that if I have this hideous feeling that the book isn't quite working, it may be because I'm trying to push it into a direction that the book did not intend to go, and doesn't make any sense anyway. And that writing well is in large part trusting oneself, and having confidence in one's stories. (Presuming a certain basic competence.)
So I have to throw away all this stuff I was going to have written, and wriggle something else. And I think I know what else, even, because I somehow had managed to sidetrack into thinking a shiny complication was actually the resolution to the primary conflict. I was wrong. Now I know.
And all will be well, and will be well, and all manner of things will be well. I really do know what I am doing. It still comes down to those seven basic rules.
1) Learn the grammar
2) Exploit the tools
3) Trust your reader
4) Trust yourself
5) Never apologize; never explain
6) Learn the rules so you can break them effectively
7) Tell a god-damned story