Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down (I hate endings)

         I hate cleaning up after Christmas. Even more than the disposing of mass quantities of wadded Christmas wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, is the taking down of the Christmas decorations. It's not that I'm afraid rolling up my sleeves, greasing my elbows, and doing a little work. I just hate endings. The anticipation, the festivities, and warm-fuzzy feelings with family members are over. For now. It brings a lump to my throat.
           A week before Christmas we picked up my son from the airport after serving an LDS mission in Alaska. The experience was bitter sweet--just like taking down the Christmas decorations. While I was thrilled to see him again, and I love having him home, it was an ending of a great experience for both he and I. And I hate endings.
          I guess I don't hate all endings. I don't get choked up when I've come to the end of a dentist appointment, or after completing year end financial crap from my business.
          As I have contemplated "endings" it has brought me to think about another kind of ending: the ending of a novel. Some endings are anxiously awaited. Some endings leave a lump in my throat similar to the one I get when I take my tree down. These are the stories I have enjoyed with a similar relish as the basking in warm-fuzzy feelings of holiday festivities. Thus I hate to see it end. I even mull it over and over in my mind for several days after I turn that last page.
          As a writer, I pose this question to all of you other writers out there: how do we write a novel/story with a powerful ending that will have our readers feel that lump in their throat? I think the key is to have the previous two-hundred-or-so pages be full of meaning. Good meaning, (a trip to the dentist office or doing one's taxes have meaning).
          We must speak to our readers' hearts and stir their souls with truth and good story. Follow that up with a satisfying ending that makes sense and doesn't disappoint, we will have our readers thinking about our book long after they finish it. Readers will then hate endings as much as I do--not because it was a bad experience, but because they are sad that it is finished.

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