Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Writers Write, But What?

I read a book several years ago that I hated. It was really long, the characters were mostly unlikable, and it didn't have an ending. Not "didn't have the ending I wanted" but actually didn't have an ending. Instead it just stopped. It was as if the author said "So, I've gotten you invested in these people, but I'm kinda bored now so that's it." Of course, the author did it on purpose, not because he was bored (I hope), but because he wanted to write a book that made a statement, even if it was a risk. It worked. I have read hundreds of books, most of which were very entertaining and had completely satisfying endings. I don't remember most of them. But I remember this book.

As a writer, I keep coming back to that. What type of book do I want to write? Do I want to make a statement and be remembered? Do I want to be fun but forgettable? The answer is "no" to both. I am not a statement writer, and if I ever have a statement to make it's usually sarcastic. I have stories to tell, and they are fun and quirky and not epic in the least. Heck, my motto is "Don't be like Dickens" because I can't stand his style. It's like I'm begging to be forgotten.

But those aren't the only stories. There are stories out there that compel, that make you think, that make you laugh, and make their statements quietly. Those are the stories I want to tell. The novel I'm revising may be one of those, or it may be a lesson in writing to prepare me for the next one. I don't know yet, and I can't know at this stage. I am afraid that I'll be one of the forgettable ones, but not too afraid to try anyway.

I've been pondering if I'm really a writer at all, fueled by that fear. I wrote a book. I could rest on that accomplishment, shove it in a drawer, and move on to a new 'hobby'. Every time I consider that, though, I feel an immense sadness. When I'm 90 I won't look back and say "oh, my house was super clean and I was a great digiscrapper!" I'll look back and say "why didn't I ever send out a query letter for that novel? Why did I ignore all those other characters and stories that came into my mind?"  There's another answer. I am a writer. I'll write.

And I promise that even when I take risks and make statements, you'll always get an actual ending. So, what stories stick with you? What stories do you have to tell? Will you always give me an ending? I certainly hope so, but if you don't, that's okay. It's your book. *grins*