Did I ever tell you my biggest fear, writing-wise? It's not getting raked over the coals in a bad review. It's not getting undeserved praise in a good one. It's not even sitting in obscurity, no-one ever reading my words at all. These things have all happened to me at one point or another, to one degree or another. They range from unpleasant to deeply painful, but they're not the worst thing.
The worst thing doesn't have to do with any external factor. It's all inside my writer's psyche (wherever that is). The worst thing, the biggest fear, is endings.
Endings are the most important part of the story. The beginnings are where you get to show how clever you are as a writer. The great humping middle is an exercise in endurance and ingenuity. But the ending-
The ending is where you've got to step up to the plate. It's where you have to make a stand, and in some form or fashion let the reader know what it is the book stands for.
A bad ending, a false ending, an ending that takes a cheap or easy way out, ducking the story questions- when I read one of those, I think 'what the hell did the author waste my time for?' I don't have to agree with an ending, or even understand it. But I do have to respect it. Give me truth, or failing that give me beauty, but don't leave me empty handed.
For quite a few years I couldn't finish anything because for those years I knew I was going to leave the reader empty handed. I told myself everything I was writing was trite, and some of it was. But the problem wasn't that. The problem was, I was in a place where I could not end anything with truth or beauty, because they were both things I no longer really believed in.
There are other, valid ways to end a tale, don't get me wrong. They're just not my way. I don't even mind trying and failing. The worst thing is starting over and over, knowing you'll never be able to write an ending.