Portrait of Mary by François Clouet, c. 1559 (http://en.wikipedia.org)

While Mary Queen of Scots was incarcerated in an English prison, waiting for her head to be chopped off, she spent her time embroidering her cloth of estate. The motto she chose to focus on while facing death was: In the End Is My Beginning.

As I approach the end of two book projects, one fiction (The Pilgrim Soul) and the other nonfiction (The Indie Author’s Annual 2013), I find myself thinking about Mary.

Endings make us uncomfortable. Hence the urge to either to race towards it and get it behind us, so we can begin anew, or else to pretend it’s not hovering ahead, casting its shadow.

All endings remind us, consciously or unconsciously, of the big one awaiting us all.

So when I find myself, straining towards the finishing line, as I so often do at the end of a writing project (I do it at the end of books too), I remember Mary and her motto and remind myself that pushing ahead is poor creative practice.

The creative way views an impending end as an invitation to return, fully, to what is still in hand

The creative way allows us to know — without having to be imprisoned in the Tower of England, awaiting execution — that without an ending, we could never begin.

That if we never died, we wouldn’t know how to live.