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I always tell my students not to conclude their stories with “The End.” If they have written their story well, we should be able to figure out that it is the end without them telling us. I also then admit to them that I think crafting a good ending is probably the hardest thing about writing. I agonize over it forever, rewriting, revising, and sometimes settling for a mediocre ending just because my non-writing life has to go on after that conclusion.
That said, I really appreciate a great ending–both in books and in movies. The creativity and effort that has gone into their conclusions makes certain works stick out in my mind. The other night, for example, I caught the last twenty minutes or so of the movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s an okay movie–not a favorite–but I really love the ending: the fight scene, her parents reuniting, her crazy, supportive friends, her realization of the lie that made her wrongly judge Mark Darcy, and the usual Bridget bumbling and fumbling that led to great embarrassment but eventually to her getting her guy. A good ending. Worth revisiting.
This got me thinking. What other books and movies have those endings that I would love to go back to–even for just a few minutes or chapters? (Spoiler alert–I’ll try not to be too specific about these endings, but I can’t make any promises.)
- J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Yes, of course, I expected great things from Harry, Ron, and Hermoine in this final book of the amazing series. Surprisingly, however, it was Neville Longbottom’s triumphant actions and Mrs. Weasley’s kicking butt after such great loss that really made my heart race during the final battle at Hogwarts.
Some Kind of Wonderful — My best friend in high school, Jill, and I would actually watch this 80’s teen masterpiece and rewind the ending just to see Eric Stoltz bite his lip before running to the girl he was meant to be with all along. Good writing or just good acting? Not sure, but I can still picture it.
- Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee — When Amanda Beale comes with Mars Bar to the buffalo pen to give Maniac a piece of her mind and to finally call him home–this makes me laugh and cry every time I read it to my students.
- Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner — I still can remember the hope and possibility surrounding that final scene of flying kites in the book. To go from such amazing tragedy throughout the story to finally a glimmer of something good again. It was too beautiful.
Those are just a few of the great endings that stick out to me right now–worthy of a reread or a re-view. If you only had 15-20 minutes, what ending would you revisit?
Oh, and on that note (and this is for all of my past and future students)…
I am a writer. I am also a perfectionist, which lately has meant that I am a lousy writer. Writers write; I don’t. I haven’t written for a while, at least. I often think about writing. I get ideas all of the time–while driving my car, talking to my curious (almost) four year old son, or playing with my infant daughter. Especially now that I’m on summer break and finished with grad school, the ideas are flowing. In my head, I craft beginnings to blogs and personal narratives while in the shower or folding laundry. The trouble is, it’s hard to find the time to put pen to paper. I never feel that I can give it the time needed to make my writing just right–to analyze and revise and revise again. Because of that, nothing gets written. Not…one…word. My blog readers, I’m sorry to say, because of these excuses, you’ve missed some darn good writing!
Excessive hubris aside, it’s time to get back to the pen and the keyboard and to try this blog thing again. I am going to let my perfectionism fall by the wayside and just get my voice out there–even if it’s darn awful.
So…it’s time to steal some moments back for my writing self. While my baby is busy exploring under the table, my son is having some tech time on the couch, and the spaghetti sauce is a-bubblin’ on the stove, I’ll make a new entry into my trusted, patient writer’s notebook. Let’s see what comes of it!
The other night, I finished a wonderful Barbara Kingsolver novel, Flight Behavior, after about a year of reading it off and on. On social media, I referred to my gratitude for all of those solon moments that I had with that book throughout the year. This got me thinking about the phrase, “stolen moments.” Usually things stolen have a negative connotation–stolen wallet, stolen identity, stole a loaf of bread and spent 17 years as a French prisoner (couldn’t resist a random Les Miserables reference).
Stolen moments, however, has a positive connotation. They are those moments we squeeze out of the must-do’s and have-to’s of our ordinary, busy lives that help center us and feed our soul, even for a bit. They are the times in your day or week that you refuse to let yourself feel guilty about because you know you really need them. As a working mom and grad student, I have probably made room for these moments less than I should. Who hasn’t at some time in their life? As a teacher currently on summer break, I am afforded many more of these. Even though grad classes and the summer “to do” list both linger as constant reminders of the real world, I see summer as a time when I can regain that balance in my life.
So why blog? I love to write. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for pleasure is definitely on my stolen moments list. I want to try to make a little more time for it. I want to cherish these moments as they come. Maybe smell a flower or two along the way. Perhaps this blog can be my own way of documenting these special times (and perhaps recording other thoughts and observations along the way). Who knows if the blog will last? Who knows if I will have more than one reader? (Hi Mom.) Stolen moments can’t be so well planned. All I’ve learned is to just enjoy then when they come.
Some of my stolen moments (in no particular order):
- Reading even a page or two out of a good book or a collection of poetry
- Jotting a profound or trivial thought (often they are hard to tell apart) in my writer’s notebook
- Reading an extra book at bedtime with my son and actually staying awake for it myself
- Holding my husband’s hand
- Reading aloud an extra chapter with my students instead of moving on to the next lesson
- Cuddling with my dog
- Truly listening to a song like I’m blasting it through headphones back in my dorm room in 1994
- Dancing to a full song with my son (though this takes extra endurance lately)
- Pausing to really feel the flutters and movements going on in my pregnant belly
- Sitting outside and soaking it in (the sun, the air, the sounds, my son’s pure joy)
- Ice cream–truly savored
- Really looking at an old family photo–remembering
- Playing the piano (though this moment is often stolen back–or made new–by my son, who tries to join the fun)
- Singing my heart out to a favorite song
What’s on your list??