The Happy Ending: Love Conquers All or Thoughts for the Fiction Writer After Dialoguing with My Dog!
Recently, I was considering the question of peace, which doesn't happen often while writing fiction. There's all that drama, love, hate, desire, envy and so on. Peace, with any luck, comes at the end of the novel. I was considering this aimlessly as I lay with my head on Phoebe's warm flank.
Phoebe, being the sensitive, intuitive creature she is, immediately tuned into my musings and suggested we consider the question of love instead, which she quite rightly observed was a precursor to true peace. As she is an expert in both, I decided to go with her feelings. "It can't be mushy love, all slurpy with wet noses and such," I reminded her. "Not that I don't love your slurpy, wet-nosed kisses, but these are writers. Love, hate, war, peace, birth, death--the human drama--we can't be too obvious."
She turned away and began to slowly, lovingly lick her paw.
"Characters," I went on, scratching her behind her ear to get her attention. When I finished scratching, she glanced back at me with, well, the only word I can think of is love. I got all gushy and warm and silly and put my arms around her. We rubbed noses and I buried my face in her warm fur. She stretched out and I laid my head on her warm neck.
"Struggle," I went on. "Writers struggle a lot. It's not a dog's life, you know, being a writer. We write, we struggle, our passion ignites, unleashes the white heat that drives the pen without thought. But then, the door closes, we struggle again, scratch a bit, make tea, feel sorry for ourselves, maybe take our dog for a walk in hopes of inspiration returning."
WALK! She sat up, her tongue lolling with the giddiest of grins. WALK! It was the rapid tail wagging that gave her away.
"Calm down, sweet girl," I told her. "I have an article to write my newsletter first. Then a walk."
The tail wagging wound slowly down. She collapsed on the floor with a groan and I lay my head on her neck again, stroking her soft, sweet tummy. It was then that true inspiration passed between us, and I exclaimed, "That's it! The emotional roller coaster ride of being a writer. The waxing and waning of inspiration!"
Phoebe yawned as if I were waxing a bit too poetic for her taste.
I explained, "The answer is both simple and complex, Phebes. Because, so long as we write and take risks with the writing, the journey never ends..."
She was beginning to snore. I knew I'd lost her. Kissing her softly, I returned to the computer and began to write: For the writer, where life ends and fiction begins or where fiction ends and life begins is never quite clear. And that is, I find, one of the great joys of writing fiction. For the life inside me, the possibilities of experience, adventure, and understanding that lie in the depths of my imagination, just waiting to step forth, are not only endless but endlessly exciting, mystifying and enriching.
Who will be my next cast of characters?
To what new landscape will they take me?
Who will step forth as my darkside character this time?
With whom shall I battle?
With whom shall I fall in love?
Falling in love-it always comes back to that! (Phoebe is right, you see!) How we writers love our characters, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly! Love is the beginning and the end: love of the characters, love of the process, love of our self that comes when we journey inward to discover a person we never knew we were, whether it be a hero, voyager, dragon slayer, shaman, or storyteller.
WE'RE TALKING TRUE LOVE, NOT A ONE NIGHT STAND
Taking your time developing the romance between writer and characters, writer and story, is pivotal. It takes a lot for this romance to flower. Because we're not talking about a one night stand. Writing is not about instant gratification. No writer I know escapes without struggling with characters, story and most of all, self. But the payoff is better than anything you might imagine. For writing is a life journey. Unlike athletes, we never grow too old to excel in our chosen field. We never grow too old to imagine.
PS from Phoebe: May many soft, wet noses and wise creatures, live and imagined, come your way.