Sunday, September 16, 2012

a festival. and musings on happy endings.

It's been a fun but exhausting weekend. My parents came up on Friday and we had my mom's first festival all day yesterday. She's been making bracelets for about seven months now, and we've been selling them to friends and co-workers (and she has a few displays in shops around Augusta). But apparently the craft-fair and fall-festival scene is really where it's at, so she's signed up for a few of them for the next few months. Yesterday was our first one and it was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too!!

Since neither of us is the most outgoing, small-talk-with-strangers-inclined person ever, we had to step out of our comfort zones quite a bit, but it ended up being a fun and successful day! Of course, Matt and my dad were there as well, so it was fun just to have the whole day to hang out and chat in between customers (and friends/family that stopped by to visit!). Oh, and eat Fair Food. A lot of it. I started off with funnel cake at 10am (I declared it to be the most "breakfasty" of fair foods), followed up with a noontime snack of boiled peanuts, and 2pm lunch of polish sausage (with grilled onions/peppers) and an Italian ice. I declare that to be a smashing success of food consumption for one day.

I've been thinking a lot about "my book." Can you call it "your book" if you haven't started it yet (and have never written one before)? Oh well, I am. Here's the thing. As much as I love to read funny books, and as much as I like to write funny things (or things that I think are funny) on the ol' blog...I just can't see myself writing a funny book. I don't know why. Maybe because I can't think of any funny storylines. 

Right now I'm drawn to stories that feel real. And here's the sucky thing about real life: it's not always happy. The endings aren't always happy. Each sub-plot doesn't necessarily get resolved happily. Everything doesn't always work out the way it seems like it should. And so I have these two stories developing in my head right now, and I'm drawn to each of them for different reasons, but the thing is: I don't think there are going to be happy endings for either of them. Because it would feel contrived. And because I just can't do it. Perpetuate the myth that happiness is the highest goal-- the be-all, end-all of our existence. That only stories with happy endings are of worth.

And on the one hand, I don't get it. Because I like stories with happy endings. I get mad when they DON'T have happy endings, and I yell at the author (in the comfort of my own home, of course)-- what is WRONG with you??! How could you put me through all of that and then have it end all WRONG??! How dare you? Because I want to hear stories that give me hope-- stories that have happy endings, against all odds. But then you know what that does to my heart, right? It makes me think that all stories-- not just the ones in books-- will end happily. And that simply isn't true. And I think that sets us up for a lot more disappointment in life-- to eventually have to come to terms with the fact that not all of our stories will end happily.

So that's some of my internal struggle with 'my book.' Is it okay to want to write something that will probably not end with a happily-ever-after? Will it be too depressing to write it? I'm not talking about contriving some plot of extraordinary sadness and extenuating circumstances-- I'm just talking about people living real life, with all of the real-ness and tragedy that real life often entails. Will people judge me for lacking faith and hope if I'm honest enough to say that I just don't think that every story is meant to end happily?

I don't know. So I haven't started writing yet. But I think I'm going to.


  1. You should go look up the music video for "My Hope is in You" by Aaron Shust- it is depressing, but refreshingly realistic and happy-ending-free!

  2. As I recall.... Some of the best books out there don't have happy endings. So I would say go for what feels real to you. All of us though....we need hope. I think even unhappy endings can have a vein of hope.

  3. My husband teaches college English and his students always complain that the books he chooses are all depressing and have no happy endings. (In my opinion those students are all pansies and need a dose of reality.) Movies are for happy endings, but books are for truth. I say write whatever you want! The best books aren't necessarily the ones with happy endings but the ones that make you think. That's why I gave up reading a long time ago... it makes my head hurt JK! :) I'll definitely read whatever you write!

  4. I have two minds about the not-happy-ending issue, and I think it comes down to a question of what kind of stories YOU like to read, because that's what you should be writing.

    I like genre fiction; I'm into everything from thrillers to urban fantasy to dystopian YA. I'm not into realistic contemporary or literary fiction. So I like a story that ties up neatly, if not necessarily happily.

    But if you want the more realistic type of story, that's cool too. I think the key is to make sure your characters are still moved and changed. It can end unhappily, but it can't end with your characters in the same state in which they started. Even in real life, people are affected and moved by tragedy; they may not emerge fully-enlightened from it, but they are changed. If they don't change, then there's no story to tell.

    I'm excited for you to write a book! :) I'm still entertaining the notion that I'll make a career of this somehow.

  5. Maybe I'm a glass half empty kind of person (or just in that mood right now. LOL) But I don't really like happy endings where everything is tied up neatly in a bow.

    I'd rather read a story about making the best with what you are dealt. But then that is what I identify with the most.

  6. I must admit, I do like happy endings. But you are right in that real-life isn't that way. I think our own happy endings are a work in process and one that we work towards.

    In my opinion as long as the characters are working their way towards their own "happy ending" then that will make the book shine. Like someone else pointed out, just show that your characters have moved beyond where they started out from.

    And the reason it took me awhile to comment on this post is because I had to think about happy/unhappy (or maybe a better word is "real life") endings and how I felt about them.


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