Yesterday I wrote the last paragraph to my book. That’s not to say that I have the thing finished yet – I still have chapter 4 to write – but I have wrapped up the ending, something that I’ve been mulling over for the last six months. The conclusion to a work of non-ficiton is rather a tricky thing to write. It is the bit of the book, where a departure from the careful curation of facts is required. You have to crank up your rhetorical game, set off a few fireworks and go out with some kind of take-home message. This might make it the least factual part of a non-fiction work. Even if the author has steered clear of the first-person, as I have done in The Way of the Panda, the ending seems to call for a hefty dose of subjectivity. It’s your last chance to justify why you’ve gone to the trouble of writing a book and to convince your reader that their money has been well spent.
I had lots of ideas for different endings and for a long while none of them was quite right. Some of them, I felt, were not sufficiently original. Others, I sensed, weren’t too bad, except that my heart was not quite in them. One, which I did rather like, would not have come well from someone with my ecological footprint. In the end, it all came quite naturally. When you come to read the book (because you will won’t you?), I don’t know if you’ll like it as much as I do but it’s a weight off my mind to have something down I am pleased with.