How carefully to you plan your endings? What are the endings we face in life? Are they really endings, or merely commas separating one related series of events from the next?
Do you subscribe to the notion that without a plan, you plan to fail? Or, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-fabulous-pants like me?
You’re likely asking, “Where did these questions come from?”. An article in the Globe and Mail about endings got me to thinking. I know, I know, a dangerous thing for a delicate flower like myself.
You see, another countdown to holiday time is upon me. I feel my body and mind ache to sit down and write. To edit. To re-write and contemplate. I know the ending, I know the dots I have to connect in between, but there are still surprises waiting for me that haven’t hit the page yet. I just know it!
The article that I read in the Globe and Mail was about Hemmingway’s writing and how he wrote and rewrote the ending to a Farewell to Arms. It explained Hemminway’s claim that he really didn’t have structure in mind while writing. The article aslo waxed whiney about how the teacher struggled with student’s who didn’t plot their novels. Having some experience with this writing thingy, I have my own opinion about it all. Sitting down to write a novel is not an easy thing. Just sitting down takes discipline, and the voices in my head whisper things like, “Who are you kidding – you’re not a real writer? No one cares about what you have to say. You know, good mothers would be sewing or cleaning or sacraficing themselves in some martyr-like way at this hour for their children. I think that Carlie’s character would do this, but will the reader be ok with that or is it too harsh?”
As a writer, a lover, a friend, a mother, and all of the other titles I own, I’ve concluded that endings are really just middles. After all, what happens next is the karmic residue of seeds we’ve already planted. Whether in real life, or in the stories we write.
The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. But, it is a long, winding, multi-forked road with doors that slide in and out, and force us to detour and re-route. People with carefully plotted out lives generally have wide margins. In other words, they have more cushion in place (socially, emotionally, economically) if something goes wrong.
People with narrow margins on the other hand have either not had a rich environment for development, or have twiddled away their opportunities. People with wide margins feel more in control, and likely will say that they plan their endings well. But do they? Do any of us?
Planning the end of relationships is rarely by design. Usually it comes through unexpected changes in circumstance. Perhaps a lie, a death, or a failure to relate. Planning the end of a job is a bit more within our grasp, but who really ever knows when a great opporunity will pop up, fade away or the path take an unexpected sharp a turn?
This unexpected journey has been my experience writing as well. I have a sense of where my plot is going, but sometimes the twists and turns are the most interesting and rewarding parts. What my creative mind cooks up is the yummy broth that holds the meaty bits of writing stew together.
During a romantic getaway in a past relationship, I asked my true love to pull off the road and stop at a winery that was not marked on the regional marketing ‘wine route’. He grumbled and jerked the car to the side of the road pouting because it was not part of the plan. As it turns out, it was a unique “bubbles” only winery, the only one in our province.
I fell in love with the bubbly, and out of love with my spoil sport companion. Who would have guessed that road held so much adventure and change? That an unplanned ending ( stopping at somewhere we hadn’t planned) would free me up to enjoy the people and things that make me so happy?
I do wish every one of you wide margins, the security to take chances and to be well. I also wish you grand adventures, so that the road to your endings is winding, wonder-full and a gateway to something new.