Okay. This is probably going to be a rambling mess of a blog post since I can’t seem to write any nonfiction that doesn’t ramble these days. But oh well.
Is it a happy ending?
Is it a tragedy?
Is it sad?
Is it like real life?
Oh, I like a good escapist story every now and again as much as anyone. Something that’s fluffy and either a bit of good solid here-and-now wish fulfillment, or just light themes and full of characters and world-building that are engaging and interesting without being too heavy. Something to just have fun with that doesn’t require too much thought and wrestling with issues.
And – this occasional urge gets fulfilled in some of my novels as well, though there’s not a hard line between what is simply fun escapism and what’s the more thoughtful content. The fact is, hard lines don’t exist in my life very much and putting things neatly on one side or another of a label – if I even understand the label, which would be an accomplishment – is something I really struggle with. Some of my books are more one or the other, but all of them have a little of both (at least to me). And sometimes something is at once both, and in being one, is also the other. Oh the winding loops and intricacies of my mind.
But what is a happy ending?
This is something I disagree with most people on. Not that I neither write nor enjoy the typical ‘happy ending’ now and again, as I wrote above. But it’s not all that I want, and I hate it when it feels forced. Just to have one.
At the same time, I don’t want to read stuff that I find depressing.
Sorry for the unwriterly wording. ‘Stuff’? Can’t I come up with a more descriptive word than that? The question is, why should I? Will you really understand better if I do? – But how to write good characters and novels is not today’s topic.
I recently wrote and published a couple of books that are very much on that comfort read side of things. Oh, not that nothing terrible happens, or that I don’t explore thoughts and what I think, feel, and believe in a lot of ways in them. Some things I really needed to explore, benefited from exploring, and think it would be great for others to see as well. If I didn’t mention it already, I write to think, explore, discover, learn, grow.
But my feelings about the fact that things really turned out rather well in the immediate long term (what sort of a word is that? It means on this side of death and extending farther than this minute. Or something like that) are a bit confusing. I like it. It was really nice to write, and hope and encouragement come in a lot of different forms. I think seeing that, feeling that, imagining that can be really helpful for people in a lot of circumstances. I think just showing a settled happiness can be comforting and encouraging.
But I also crave something else. To wrestle the issues through the things we all-too-easily fear. To test them, prove them. To make them conquer the worst I fear and the worst I imagine.
Because the world feels like that. There’s so many horrible things that happen in the world. This is going to touch on my “Spirituality/Religion,” and, if someone wants to debate me sometime on some of this, I might be willing to talk, but don’t rush it right now, please! Don’t go, “Oh, you’re one of those stupid, religious theists!” Just listen. I’m a person. You’re a person. And I’m not even proselytising, so it’s okay, all right?
There are so many things that happen in this world that seem so horrible. So horrible. So unthinking. It’s hard to describe. “How can a good god let these things happen?” “How can ultimate Love let these things be?” It’s hard to describe, to get across. I’ve felt these questions, I have, but it’s never, ever shaken my conviction that the ultimate thing is Love. That Goodness is final, and evil is not. When I was most caught in my questions, anger, confusion, despair, ranting them – giving voice to them and ranting them – convinced me absolutely that I do believe.
So why did I go off on this tangent? I barely remember.
Oh yes. What I crave. It’s weird, because sometimes I’m not in the emotional state to write the darkness, the horror, to deal with what that means. For the most part, I haven’t been these last couple of years, though several of my current Works-In-Progress touch it more than the last couple things I’ve written or published. (By the way, if you’re looking for which one of my books to read, do check the publication date of this article and other things, because otherwise you’re going to really get yourself into something you don’t expect).
But I feel a constant need to write through it. To face what this world seems to be. And where did I lose my thread about a happy ending?
Oh yes. To write stories that redefine what it means to win, to be victorious – to have a happy ending.
To write stories that say, “In the midst of despair – redemption.” Not some final last-minute save from the expected horror. No, something far more complete and unshakeable than that.
That to love is the victory. To stay true to who you are. To stay loyal to what you love. To never bow before the power that seems. (Or, if you do, to get back up, and try again.)
And now I remember why I brought up what I did about religion. I think some people will feel like this conviction that love outlasts death, that there will be a final redemption and healing of all things, whether that’s right after we die, or in a hundred thousand million years, and who cares about time really, kind of defeats the point of hope. Of love. Of it being the victory to love, fight, be who you are, strive for what you love, no matter how it ends.
And … there’s a part of me that just barely understands where such a person might be coming from.
But to me, it doesn’t make a whole lot of philosophical sense.
And this is why I write my thoughts out in Fiction, and you will hate some of it, I am sure almost every reader is going to get to some scenes in some books (it won’t be the same for everyone), hate them, wonder what in the thousand hells (sorry for what might seem to be cussing) I thought I was doing or what sort of insanity I think. But it’s me thinking through things, and not judging them, and none of it is complete, and I’m not writing a book with the idea in mind that it’s perfect and you should get all of your ideas from it. Please, please, please no!! Don’t look to my books like that. Or anything I write like that.
Because when I’m writing I get myself to a point and I don’t know how to tie the thoughts together or bring it to the point. I just … stall.
Anyway, I think the characters can die at the end, more or less or completely unsuccessful from a worldly point of view, and it can be a happy ending. Sometimes a very happy one.
And I can get really upset when I feel like an author just doesn’t want to let the characters die, so comes up with some way for them not to, even though all the foreshadowing and everything else suggested they really ought to die. (Though there is potential to be explored with: what is life like when you were sure you were going to die, and now you haven’t? but it has to be hinted at, even if the author doesn’t feel able to actually write it. Like I know there’s something there, but I’m not where I can tell you anything about it.)
Anyway, that it, sort of.
I like the standard happy ending sometimes.
I don’t like what I find depressing. And there is plenty of that out there.
But I think the characters can die, no matter how successful they are from the world’s point of view, and it can be a really beautiful, lovely happy ending, done right.
And maybe the next post should be about time….