‘Uptown Girl – The Lazarus Heart’ is about ten pages (or so) from wrapping up. The conflict is over, life is returning to normal, rifts are being mended, dust is settling and their world is going to be funny again.
The end of Uptown Girl has never really hit me as I have been focusing on this individual story and on the pages I’ve been working on at the time. I don’t get into a page thinking of the series as a whole, but rather what the current story needs. It still hasn’t hit me and I don’t think it will until the first time I sit down at my table after finishing the book and realize that drawing her adventures are over and there’s nothing more to write for her.
I’ve never ended a series before so I don’t have any experience in terms of the right way to do it. Some things end perfectly, some are disappointing and some can’t end any other way than they do. I’ve completed a few books and many stories and I like how some end, and others I know I should have done differently. I had a hard time wrapping up ‘The Long-Forgotten Fairy Tale’ and I knew early on it wasn’t going to be easy. I never worried about it though. I approach some things in life in a ‘we’ll figure it out when we get there’ attitude and I pass the the same line of thinking onto my characters. For this story, I knew how the book would end from the start, but the middle has been all over the map. Like ‘…Fairy Tale’, the characters get into a, well, let’s call it a jam, and real life needs to return. When ‘…Fairy Tale’ ended, Uptown Girl, Ruby and Rocketman were stranded in the middle of nowhere and needed to return to Minneapolis. I could have written and drawn them trudging back to their car through the forest I was really tired of drawing, but it didn’t add to the story and not only would it be boring to write and draw, it’d be boring to the reader. Instead, I had the characters recap how they got back home through a conversation between Uptown Girl and her boss. This is known as…
‘The Lazarus Heart’ isn’t much different. There is a lot of resolution (and some suspension of belief, to be honest) that needs to happen and it could have been ten pages of conversation but it would take away all the emotional impact that the scene had. I had gotten to the end of the story and I had known how the conflict would end, I knew how the final pages would go, but the little bridge between the resolution and the last pages was a little unclear.
I knew the scene that I had to do write and draw next needed to accomplish a lot and I needed to do it right. I had considered Uptown Girl and Mr. Mustard having another chat, but not only did I do that already in’…Fairy Tale’, it didn’t feel right. I stared at the page I had drawn and wondered what was next.
I think of my characters as very real and I try to write them realistically in terms of what they might need. Ruby gets put through the wringer in this tale. It starts early and gets worse. I asked myself that if I were Ruby, what would I need or want after this was all over? Sometimes we tell ourselves we need a drink or we need a vacation or we need something else. I realized what Ruby needed and I gave it to her…and luckily it gave me a new way to resolve the lingering plot threads and explain how things settled. It’s also one of the more emotionally and very real moments of the entire Uptown Girl series.
It’s safe to say I’ve been busy with a lot of life things since I started this book and I worried that things like job hunting, finishing my degree, launching The Retros and life itself would take away from this adventure. However, as the end draws near I feel the book and the series is coming together in a fitting, appropriate way.