It's a tricky balancing act to tie things up neatly so the reader is satisfied, yet to leave a few threads dangling, either anticipating a sequel, or so that the reader can continue the story in their own imagination. The end of SeaNovel has been clear in my mind almost from the outset — the crucial image of the climax, along with the closing image were so clear to me that I always knew what I was working towards, despite the widely differing versions the book has gone through over the past couple of years.
However, when my lovely reader got back to me with some issues over that ending, my reaction was a meditative hmmmm ... as though part of me has known all along that the end was lacking ... Well, lacking oomph. It certainly had some oomph, but my lovely reader helped me to see that it could have so much more. And there's one particular thread that needs tying up and snipping off neatly in order to achieve it.
Now, one of my big problems following the previous round of feedback was that I was in danger of losing my authorial voice along the way of trying to incorporate everyone's fabulous suggestions for the book. This time it's different. This time, I can clearly see a way of fixing the ending that incorporates some of the lovely reader's suggestions, while at the same time remaining true to my vision of SeaNovel. Even better, it's got me thinking in different ways about other aspects of the story, and how I might polish those too.
I guess the moral of this story is the importance of flexibility in our writing. It's dangerous to develop tunnel vision over it, because you never know when a better version might reveal itself, or indeed be revealed to you.
That, and the fact that savvy, generous readers are worth their weight in chocolate!