Apparently it sets a dreary tone.
She glanced up and commented that it didn't look like a happy story. My first instinct, of course, was to defend my poor little novel. But no, she's right, it isn't a happy story, and I admitted as much. Then I got to wondering...
Does anyone tell a happy story in a novel? Not really, not in the beginning at least. I think we hope to move toward a happy ending, but the beginnings are typically driven by conflict, and the middles are full of all sorts of madness and misunderstanding. That happily ever after might come at the end, but only after it's earned. And to do that our characters usually have to go through some pretty bad stuff.
The same is true for writers. We go through a lot of rejection and self-doubt on the road to publication. But if it were easy, everyone would be a successful author. I think it's worth stopping to look around once in awhile and just take pride in the fact that it is so damn hard, that it takes so much dedication, and yet we keep at it (for years!), working toward that shiny goal -- despite the discouragement, despite distraction, and despite those days of self-loathing when everything we write feels like crap. It's called perseverance. And that, I suspect, is what the road to Happily Ever After is paved with.
Are you ready to give up? Me neither.
Do you agree most stories aren't happy ones in the beginning?
This post is part of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. We meet the first Wednesday of every month. Just follow the signs, you'll find us. We're the ones with our heads down and our fingers typing like mad as we work toward our goal.
*creative commons photo by Barney Moss