Friday, June 27, 2008

The Little Engine...Pooped Out

by G.Parker

Sometimes as a writer I feel the burden of forgotten words and empty pages. I know we're supposed to keep telling ourselves, "I think I can, I think I can," and everyone around us is saying, "we know you can, we know you can." But there are days when the little engine feels like all the coal is burned up and there is nothing left to give.

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that had a disappointing ending? One that made you angry and throw the book to the floor? I've had a couple that made me react like that.

A movie that comes to mind to illustrate my point is Princess Bride. There is a part where the grandson asks the grandpa who kills Humperdinck.

"I don't understand."
"Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end. Somebody's got to do it. Is it Indigo? Who?!"
"Nobody. Nobody kills him, he lives."
"You mean he wins?" the boy cries angrily. "Gees, Grandpa! What did you read me this thing for?"

There are times when we're writing a story and the ending isn't a happy one. Perhaps the ending is appropriate, things are better, but it's not cut and dried like most fairy tales or romances. Sometimes life is more complicated than that.

The challenge as a writer is to see if this helps or hurts your story, and perhaps future stories. If the reader thinks all your books end like that, they might not want to read any more. Some of us WANT happy endings, all tied up nicely and glowing into the sunset. There is enough frustration and confusion in reality, who wants that in something fictional?

But sometimes reading that kind of work puts you in a different frame of mind. Sometimes it helps you ponder your own life and realize that perhaps it's not as bad as previously thought. It can help you move forward.

I'm not saying I've written anything like this -- even remotely -- but I think it's a possibility every story faces. Not every story is happy. I sound like the end of Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium...the little boy is narrating and he says that "all stories come to an end, even the ones we really like. That way another story can begin."

Sometimes we have to end a story, despite how it comes about -- so that we can get started on the next one. It's like a blank page waiting and calling to us...another whole ending to contemplate and develop.

No comments: