Confessions of a poptimistic writer

nightGrowing up, my favorite fairytales were, of course, the ones that ended with, “and they lived Happily Ever After.” Happy stories, ones where the prince and the princess got married after defeating the evil villain and birds and mice cheered, and everything was perfect. The older I get, however, the more I prefer a bittersweet ending, an ending that leaves you a little sad; mournful for those who died, or fell away, and a little happy for those who survived and did get happy endings. A satisfying ending, but one we can relate to. In real life – even if I’m reading a fairytale – complete happy endings where justice is served to everyone we dislike and everyone we love gets to live out the rest of their days without trouble don’t happen. The only true Happy Ending hasn’t come yet, and so until then, we all have our own endings (or beginnings, however you want to look at it) and not all of them are happy.

‘The point, gentlemen, is that they lived.’

I like to call myself a poptimist because- a pessimist + an optimist = a poptimist. I love to show things for how they are; the shadows for their darkness and the light for its brightness, the brokenness for what it is and the joy for all it can be. I began to think about all this about half an hour ago, because I was writing in Acceso and I realized that, while Acceso’s main character has the most struggles, the most personal demons, the most difficult personality to deal with, Acceso also probably has the happiest ending of any of my novels. I knew it would from the time I began to write it. A difficult book needs a happier ending. Contrariwise, my happier novels – The Meaning of Always, The Care and Keeping of Jupiter – have very bittersweet endings. I’ve discovered through my years of writing that people’s souls connect with truth more than they do with an idealized ending, my own soul included. It’s easier to believe in a poptimist ending than a happily ever after – for now. But we can never forget that at the end of time, the world will have such a Happily Ever After that even the mountains will sing of it. Until then, we give people hope, we help them feel, and we create broken, beautiful things because we live in a broken, beautiful world and we should give people a glimpse of heaven amid the fragments.

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6 thoughts on “Confessions of a poptimistic writer

  1. I think this is why you are one of my favorite writers. Because I love a good slightly sad/bittersweet ending. Monster’s ending was so well done. It was happy, good won over evil. But it was also sad. Mir only has 36 months to live. But it was so right. It fit the story so well.

  2. I see where you’re coming from, and there are some books that go well with that sort of ending — some need it, are really fitted to it.

    But personally, happy endings are my favorite. I’m reading “fiction” for a reason… There’s enough sad tragedy and/or bittersweet things in real life. Bittersweet might be a more “realistic” ending, but it’s not my favorite in fiction — which is where I go for those happy endings that, as you say, we can’t have in real life.

    It’s like the quote by Neil Gaiman on the side over there: “these worlds provide an alternative. Provide an escape.”

    In general, if I read a book and it doesn’t end happily (or at least happily enough) then the story is broken for me, and I’m left with an empty feeling — a feeling that I can find often enough in real life without having to look for it in fiction.

    • (Also, if I seemed blunt or mean or anything, I do apologize — I’m a bit down at the moment and this probably wasn’t the best time to be reading this post. XD)

  3. As a writer I often go to other writers for advise and just general words of wisdom. And I’ve come to realize one of the many reasons I admire you. It’s because I trust you. What you say makes sense, it works, it’s real. It’s not just blown up mumbo jumbo from someone who thinks they can write. It’s good advise. I can try out what you say and it works. You have well written thoughts that I can agree with. It’s genuine, from real life experience and work.

    Anywho…thanks. 🙂

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