Friday, September 15, 2023

Glimmers and Starbursts and Hopeful Endings


You may remember my big summer news:  After a particularly nasty fall, I underwent surgery to replace a very sad hip.  I couldn’t take my walks. I couldn’t go into the woods or see my favorite trees or feed my favorite turtles.  The news was overwhelmingly depressing. I’ve watched every season of Doc Martin and The Witcher. And you know Whoooo!

And just about that time, a meme made its way to my page, defining the nature of glimmers. A glimmer is that micro-moment of happiness; a sign of hope.

So, I decided enough is enough. I pulled out an old story and made it new again.  Working at the desk, while doing my leg exercises, o! the possibilities!

A month later, I could bike ½ mile (albeit, it’s a PT bike. But a bike is a bike!)

I walked 45 minutes (albeit, I stopped to practice my balance, with my trusty cane – Miss Purple Bess – by my side.)

O, big glimmer. My eighth book, this one from Charlesbridge, is scheduled for Spring 2026! 

So how does this relate to our topic on endings? Ending is such a particularly good concept for me these days. I went to my Doc appt recently. I'm at the halfway mark. Only 6 more weeks of PT.  Endings. And new beginnings!

In other words, hope is the core ingredient for a satisfying ending to a story. There are many ways to end a story. There’s the happily ever after, common in romance stories and other fairy tales. There’s the “the restoration of honor through sacrifice; the bolstering of friendship and altruism through earned humility.” As Vaughn Roycroft noted in his article, Good Story Endings: Happy or Sad, or Something Else?” 

There’s the tragic ending, epitomized by Jack’s death in Titanic. And the open ending, when nothing is really resolved, and the murderer seems to have escaped. Then there's the redemption at the end of the story. In each scenario,  hope allows the character to move forward, and the possibilities are endless. After Jack died, Rose’s ‘heart lived on' to love again and have a family. Darth Vader found redemption and the rebellion found new hope.  

Hope means the story didn’t end with the tragedy, or even with the ecstasy. It is, in essence, the beginning to the next chapter – the sequel, if you will.

David Means, author of Two Nurses, Smoking, said, “A good ending doesn’t answer a question. It opens up the deeper mystery of the story itself.”

In other words, through dark moments and tragic scenes, and happy reunions, the most memorable ending invites readers to glean meaning from the story and, in so doing, becomes inspired, as noted by Hannah Gullickson in her article, “Imagination and Writing: The “Hopeful Ending” vs. the“Happy Ending”.  

And to end this reflection with a starburst: this morning I submitted the revision to my agent. 

“Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful.” -- L.R. Knost

-- Bobbi Miller