Seems to be a hot topic among those who dislike neat and tidy at the end of a book. "Life is messy," they say. "Not everything ends the way you want it to," they say. "Sometimes you need to dig deeper," they say. They being family, critics, friends, anonymous readers and not so anonymous wanna-be-fans.
And they all have a point. But there is something else to consider. Other than the clearly relevant fact that I'm the author and it's my story.
Life can be ugly at times. Uncertain and chaotic. Especially now. But for me escaping into a good novel is like recharging my being. I don't need or want more ugly. I don't need or want more tragedy. When I finish the story I want, no, I need to be uplifted. I need to be left with hope.
My debut novel featured a happy ending. Nobody complained. In fact, readers said they loved the happy ending. Schmaltz and all. Happy Endings for some seem to be a guilty pleasure. Nobody likes to admit that every so often they need one. Just as in real life. We need happy endings. Without them, there's simply no hope.
Happy Endings aren't perfect, they're satisfying. They leave the reader feeling hopeful. Who doesn't need hope?
So I leave the dark brooding endings and uncertainty to others. There are many who do enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions that come with an ending without closure. Or where the main character never achieves their goal. Where the protagonist dies. Books that leave them in tears. The argument being, it's real life. No! It's not! It's fiction. It can be anything I want. Want being the operative word.
I turn on the TV lately only to find within 10 minutes my anxiety is at peak levels. Why would I want to dive into a great book only to find an awful ending? Leaving me depressed or horrified or worse. For some, that's their escape and I'm not criticizing it. I'm saying I can't write that way. My escape is writing. When I write, I'm putting myself in my happy place. So even if horrible things occur, I know what's coming. All's well as long as it ends well. If you don't like happy places, then my writing isn't for you.
There are enough real tears in this world. That's why we have fairy tales. That's why we have comedy. That's why we have Happy Endings. If they aren't for you, then by all means, go pick up another psychotic thriller where the killer wins. I'll take the one where they lose.
Happy Endings are like a fabulous dessert. The sweet satisfying conclusion to a wonderful meal.
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