Why does so much of what I write end on a sad note?
I think most people would describe me as a generally cheery person. I mean, I do have resting grumpy face; but I also smile a lot. I love sparkles, shiny things,and colors! Don’t get me wrong, I also love dark colors and sad songs. If you asked me, I’d say that I love both equally, but that rarely comes across in my writing.
A while back I sent a short story to my grandmother to read. Since I first started writing seriously, I’ve always shared my work with her. The story I sent her this time was titled, Alternative Fairy Tales. It’s a short piece about a woman visiting her father’s and looking back on her life. When I asked her how she felt about it she told me that she enjoyed it, but it was sad.
I responded, “yeah, it is.”
My grandmother then asked, “are you ever going to write something that ends happily?”
Yikes! I remember being a little shocked by her response. I mean, I knew it was sad but I didn’t think anything of it. She went on to say that the story was really good and I shouldn’t change it or anything; but maybe I could write a happy one one day.
The very first short story I ever wrote was in fifth grade. We were told to write something fictional relating to Black History Month. So, I made up a story about a young girl babysitting for Martin Luther King Jr.’s family. The character was present when the bomb went off during the bus boycott. That one technically ended happily, because the character had hope for a better future.That being said, I think that was the last time I wrote a short story with a happy ending.
If I look back on the fictional poems and stories that I have written since I was about 11; I can honestly say that about 80% of them are kinda gloomy. In 7th grade I wrote a wonderful poem from the point of view of a broken leaf. I loved that poem (I mourn the fact that I haven’t been able to find it in years) and other people loved it too; but the first person I showed it to tried to send me to the guidance office.
That same year, we were told to write a poem using words that don’t normally work together like, “big shorty, or sunny fog.” I think the idea was to make a sort of silly piece. Well mine was filled with crimson snow, screeching silence, and black tunnels of light.I named it, “Suicidal Paradise” or something close and I couldn’t have been more proud of it. As far as I was concerned, I followed the rules of the assignment and made something unique. My mother and probably some others were a bit more on the concerned side; but they still said it was good.
In my opinion I’ve brightened up a bit since then, after all I was just a child getting started. It’s true that there are certainly heavy themes represented in my stories like: abuse, racism, and death; but I wouldn’t call my stories dark. Okay, Alternative Fairy Tales, is pretty dark (I still like it though)…but Elizabeth and Kayla’s Day aren’t, at least not in my opinion. They both end on a low note, but they both have elements of beauty and light in them. That’s life, isn’t it? There is both good and bad in the world and it is often woven together. I write about families, and people and the things they go through. I never intend to bring anyone down, but I write it how I see it in my head.
My favorite book is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. If you sit there and pull out all of the “heavy” content then you’d have a pretty full bag. You name it, Fried Green Tomatoes probably has it.
Accidental death, murder,racism, domestic abuse, homelessness, sickness, racism,depression…
…and the list goes on; but it is my favorite book of all time. It has been my favorite book since I was twelve. It’s my favorite because of what exists between the tears. I would never just say that Fried Green Tomatoes is a book about pain. I would say that it is a book about friendship, love, family, community, perseverance, womanhood, and also the heavy subjects.
But as a personal challenge, and a gift to my grandmother, I have decided that the first novel I publish will have an ending that should make the reader smile. I make no such claims for what they will encounter in the middle the pages; nor will I offer any apologies. Though I do hope that between the tears, they see the love and the happiness I poured into the story.
Oh, if you were looking for an answer to the question this article began with…I’ll tell you as soon as I find one. In the meantime, please take a gander at my stories.