A Guest Blog on September’s Theme
by Cassie Feldman
When my mom asked if I wanted to write her blog post this month—with the theme of “endings”—I said sure then procrastinated for 2 weeks. So here I am, trying to figure out what endings mean to me. I think I’ll consult my inner dictionary. Let’s flip to the “E” section:
Cassie’s Inner Dictionary:
Enchilada (n.): 1) A tasty treat
2) A party in my mouth
3) The delicious snack you ordered at fake Mexico in Disney World
Not far enough; keep going…
Endoscopy (n.): Tell your doctor, “Hell NO!” and run for your life
Too far. Oh there it is:
Ending (n.): 1) Done-zo
2)The part you hate writing
That doesn’t help. Okay, let’s look at it another way. My inner dictionary also tells me it’s a noun, meaning it’s a person, place or thing. An ending isn’t a location and it doesn’t feel like an inanimate object either. An ending can evolve. To me, endings are more like people—like lovable, schizophrenic jerks. So maybe I should redefine “ending” for myself.
If an ending were a person, in order to define it, I would have to utilize the characteristics of every guy I’ve ever had a crush on. An ending can be your first crush. It sticks in your mind for days. You picture yourself in its story, and when your crush looks at you? Game over. That is, unless your crush openly rejects to hold your hand on the playground. Then, an ending can be your first taste of heartbreak. It can send you spinning into the arms of the only people who understand you: Mrs. Fields and Sara Lee.
An ending can make you think. It can be the intellectual you spent nights discussing foreign policy with, or the unpredictable guy with a Mohawk and Shel Silverstein poem tattooed on his back.
An ending can be the awkward guy you met at intramural kickball. Sure, it was funny when he kept missing the ball and falling on his butt. But now you’re wondering where the attraction came from when he continually failed to satisfy the only objective of kickball (aka kick the ball).
An ending can surprise you. At first you think he doesn’t know you exist. But one day, he turns around in math class and tells you he likes you. Then you say, “I like you, too.” And he looks at you funny because, you realize, he didn’t confess his undying love for you; he only wanted to borrow a pencil. Then you’re mortified that you told your inner, most-secret feelings to the guy you like, so you have to get out of the classroom immediately. You go to your teacher and tell her you feel ill. She asks what’s wrong and you need it to be bad. So you say you have “the clap” because you heard people talking about it on MTV, even though your Dad told you not to watch that channel. And you don’t know what “the clap” is; you only know that everyone on The Real World doesn’t want it. So your teacher rushes you to the nurse and tells her you have “the clap.” The nurse shrieks and calls your parents who barge into the school and demand you tell them who you did “the nasty” with. And you have no idea what “the nasty” is so you think of the first man who pops into your head and you say Hans Gruber. And your dad yells “That son of a—” You get the picture.
So which type of ending should you settle down with? I wish I could tell you exactly how to choose, but I’m single, so...
What I will do is tell you how I chose my last ending.
The last book I wrote was a humorous middle grade coming-of-age story. I slogged through my first draft, re-wrote the second, and polished the third. As a result, I had a novel I loved with an ending I hated. I had no clue how to fix it. So I took some time away and tried not to think about it…which turned into me actively thinking about how I shouldn’t be thinking about it. Then I tried something different. I pictured myself in a bookstore, purchasing the book I wrote. I thought about how I would feel reading my book for the first time. “As a reader,” I asked myself, “what do I want to know before it’s over?” Suddenly I had a few places to start.
With that beginning to spark my ending, I thought not only about how my characters would respond to their issues, but how I wanted the reader to feel when it ended. Because if your ending has the characteristics of a former crush, make sure you choose the crush that has the right feel for your story before you commit.
So the next time you find yourself stuck on an ending, give this a try. Think of the reader, think of the characters, and think of that dreamy person you shared an enchilada with in Disney World.
Cassie Feldman is one part science nerd and one part business professional, and most of her parts parts are always thinking about her next project. Currently she’s writing a sitcom pilot while she’s contemplating another novel and trying to place her middle grade with a publisher. She’s fun to follow on Twitter @cassiefeldman
Thanks for the day off, Cassie!