What About Happy Endings?

  Does everything you write have a happy ending?  Do you think everything should have a happy ending?

A couple of years ago, I wanted to teach a class based on the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and a couple of moms said, “Do you know how that story ends?  It doesn’t have a happy ending?” 

Before I could respond, one of the co-op leaders responded, “Life doesn’t always have a happy ending, and that book is about a time in history that didn’t really have a happy ending.”  (And they let me teach the class.)

That is one example of why some writing just can’t have a happy ending.  If it’s based on something historical and that historical event didn’t have a happy ending, you simply can’t have a happy ending.  Does that mean that what you write isn’t good or worth reading?  Absolutely not.  I found The Boy in the Striped Pajamas to be very well-written, and it was moving and thought-provoking.

It’s okay to write something sad.  What we write should be realistic and believable, even if it’s fiction, and since life is not always happy and doesn’t always have a happy ending, not all of our writing should or can have happy endings either.  We simply have to accept the fact that, when we write something that doesn’t have a happy ending, it won’t appeal to people who prefer to read only those writings with happy endings, but then, nothing any of us write will appeal to everyone anyway, but everything we write will most likely appeal to someone, and, if we are blessed, it will appeal to lots of someones.

So, if you are contemplating writing something that will not have a happy ending, and have been hesitating, stop hesitating and start writing.  Someone out there may just need to read whatever it is you’re contemplating.  There are plenty of people in the world going through difficulties, struggles, sad times, and it can make them feel better and less alone to know that someone else out there feels the same way, or can, at least, relate to them.