Way back last summer, at the request of Weekly Reader, I wrote the brief beginning for a story that kids would continue, paragraph by paragraph, and that I would then, at the end, conclude. Here's the website where all of this happens: http://weeklyreader.com/wys/weeklywriter_story.asp

Previous writers who had participated, incidentally, were Stephen King, R.L. Stein, and Walter Dean Myers.

The editor told me that there were many, many contributions; she read them and selected the ones to be posted. This week she emailed me that it was time for me to write the conclusion to the story. I had not been reading the ongoing progressive story, so of course had to do that before ending it. Gulp! It went in so many different directions! And of course the writer's task is to pull all of that together.

It made me realize how aware, in writing a book, or a story, I always am, of the ending. Not the details. But the general wrapping-up, the way it will conclude. And therefore I am aiming everything toward that, even at the same time that I am weaving in complications and distractions.

The kids, of course, had nothing to aim at because they didn't have an ending in mind, just the ongoing "plot" and the characters I had created in the beginning (plus those they had added). That's why it went off in so many directions. I felt like a cowboy trying to lasso all of those critters to get them back into the corral and settled for the night.

I think it was fun for them, though. And it was for me.