Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bd...Bd...Bd...That's All Folks

I have no more Funeral.

I know, I know...I can hear the sighs of relief.

Thanks for letting me foist my literary stylings on you, it really did get the wheels turning. Parts IV and V were written this week, and that's more progress than I have made on the piece in a year. I think I have the impetus to finish it now. It's flowing again, and it feels good.

But I'm a little unsure about how to wrap this all up.

Though this story is true, the circumstances, the town, and the people are real...there are small fictional elements to this story. I don't want any James Frey type revelations on Oprah (I should be so lucky) so I'll make that clear right here and now.

Jerry is just a man. And unfortunately, there was no epiphany for him, no salvation. He did not, suddenly, straighten up and fly right. Ohhhh, his wild days are behind him, I'd say, but he's still a bit of a lost sheep. And his brothers are still trying to save him.

But that doesn't make for a very compelling story, does it?

No. A lost man in his fifties does not launch authors to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. For that matter, I don't suppose a middle aged suburban stay-at-home Mom of two experiencing a crisis of spirit is either.

Which brings me to an ethical dilemma of sorts. Is creating an ending that readers want an injustice to the people whose lives I have borrowed? Do I sacrfice truth for glory?

So I will put it to you...readers. If you were writing this story, would you manufacture a heartwarming, lump-in-your-throat type ending for Jerry? For the narrator? If so...what would it be? Or would you write the truth and depend upon the story to tell itself?

Slices of life are so very flavorful...but one does not consume such fare only to choke on the crumbs.

Do they?

24 Comments:

  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous mel from freak parade said…

    Sometimes reality is fascinating enough. The story has been amazing so far. No need to come up with a fancy ending. In my opinion anyway, but what do I know.
    I know I was bummed to come and see not more Funeral. :(
    It's ok, I can wait.

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger liv said…

    I'm going to have to go with truth. It's always more satisfying.

     
  • At 1:36 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    i go with truth, too. Many of my favorite books have ambigious endings. They may end with a ray of hope, or a sinking feeling that things may never change, but rarely do the really interesting stories tie it all up and hand it to you with a bow.

     
  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger wyo said…

    The truth is important. Too few people tell it, and it is too valuable to be lost. Sometimes the best conclusions are ones that the reader can draw for her/himself.

     
  • At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Kvetch said…

    I think even though its often tainted with ambivalence, truth is richer and more satieting than fiction - because it really was and is. I come across the same problems when I"m writing and someone says "oooh, tell me more about so and so or this 'n that" and I have to say, "sorry, that's all there is to tell." The way you tell the story is as much a part of it's brillance as the story itself. Don't doubt that, BA.

     
  • At 2:05 PM, Blogger Jackie said…

    BA, the ending is all through the story. We are each pulled into our own experiences with grief through this truly beautiful story. Perhaps the ending has to perculate a little longer in your soul and then we can all breath "finished".

     
  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger Magi said…

    There is a line that I use a lot, "never let the truth stand in the way of a good story." However, it's said more in fun or when I share a memory and someone reminds me of a part my faulty memory missed or changed. In your story, I vote for truth. Only fairy tales always have a happy ending, sometimes it's nice to leave a little unknown for the reader to decide.

     
  • At 2:33 PM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    I go with the truth. I'd be surprised to see Jerry turn over a new leaf. It wouldn't really fit.

     
  • At 2:36 PM, Blogger cndymkr said…

    I want the true story. It's been so heart wrenching that I want to know how it ends. Not all stories have happy endings. How about two endings? One that ends with the truth, raw edges and all. And a second one that wraps it up perfectly and puts a bow on it.
    jean

     
  • At 4:04 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    A heartwarming ending isn't what I see for Jerry. It just isn't. It wouldn't seem right.

     
  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    This is a great beginning. I felt as though I was at a concert, waiting for all the movements to be over so I could clap.

    But since you've given the ok...

    *clap clap clap clap clap*

    I'm a STRONG believer in letting the story tell itself. It will feel more honest in the end. You already have created something universal from something intimate. No small feat. Speak the truth!

     
  • At 4:33 PM, Blogger Julie said…

    I'm sad to see this end for now.

    I think I would go with the truth, too. Fictionalizing it might make it seem too contrived. I would much rather hear what really happens to people than what someone thinks should have happened to them.

     
  • At 5:29 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    Truth is truth.

    I would venture to say, though, that neither of you is lost...you are searching.

     
  • At 7:47 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I think I'd gag if Jerry had been 'saved' and suddenly straightened out his entire life. Go with the truth. It will resonate more with people.

     
  • At 8:24 PM, Blogger Blogversary said…

    I read the story today. It was a nice way to relax on a Sat.

    Some of the best short story writers (Cheever, Jewett, Wharton)don't always have a "clean" ending.

    Thank you for, once again, showing us your gift for writing.

     
  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger Lucy's Mom said…

    I think I'm with the majority. Go with the truth. This is not the kind of story that you can tie up with a nice neat ending and say that everybody lived "happily ever after". You know from reading my stuff that I write the truth, but with fiction interwoven into the story. How else could I write a true story that happened when I wasn't there? I take the kernel of truth and tell the story. I suspect a lot of writers do that. Writers of any sort must take some liberties with the literal truth in order to make a story interesting to read, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. So,in the end, what I say is tell the truth but use some fiction to make the story readable and interesting. Suddenly having Jerry saved would not "fit" into this story. It would be wrong and would sound a jarring note. Therefore, the literal truth is best for his character. For others in the story, who knows? That's up to the individual writer. A classic example of the true story with interwoven fiction is Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". A horrific, but true, story. However, Capote wasn't there, he doesn't know what those monster's were thinking or every step they were taking. Truth interwoven with fiction. Unless you are writing totally about your own personal experience of something, I think all "true" stories must be interwoven with some fiction.

     
  • At 1:09 AM, Blogger JaniceNW said…

    I think the truth is more realistic and honest. I hate happy endings that aren't quite right. JMO.

     
  • At 9:22 AM, Blogger Rachelle G. said…

    I agree with most of your commenters, that truth is always preferable to something manufactured to elicit a positive emotion. In fact, I think when an author contrives an ending she thinks the reader wants, it doesn't really turn out to be satisfying if it doesn't ring of truth.

    However, I see this slightly differently than some of your other readers. As a writer it would be worthwhile to challenge yourself to write the ending two ways; first, write the ending that feels most real to you, the one that flows most naturally. Then, write the ending that speaks of redemption, that shows the amazing potential for salvation even in the most unlikely of people. And do your best to make that ending ring of truth exactly as the first ending does. The "happier" ending is only unsatisfying, both for writer and reader, if it doesn't ring true. As a writer, can you make the happier ending ring true?

    Regardless of our spiritual beliefs, if we look around us we have to recognize that redemption is a powerful and ubiquitous theme throughout life. It doesn't have to manifest as "straightening up and flying right." But people's lives and mistakes and total screw-ups can be redeemed in numerous ways, infinite ways. I recommend you don't think in terms of a happy ending, but an ending that satisfies our craving for redemption. Jerry himself might be sacrificed, but redemption could still grow out of his struggle somewhere, somehow.

    Just my thought. You are a talented enough writer that I think you could make the ending "work" and "satisfy" with a number of different outcomes.

     
  • At 12:18 PM, Blogger Christine said…

    I can't help but think that the connection/similarities between you and Jerry need to be explored. The moments the two of you have shared hint at something greater.

    Jerry, like you and your family, has chosen a path different than the majority in SmallSouthernTown. You have moved away and chosen a path, he has stayed there and floundered...but in a way you two are both outsiders looking in. You've mentioned that feeling of disconnect a few times, and clearly Jerry is removed from the fold.

    I don't know exactly where I'm going with this...but in a way this story to me is a celebration of Jerry, and his ability to NOT bow to the pressure to be "saved."

     
  • At 9:41 PM, Anonymous D said…

    Life is not always pretty, and end in a story book fashion,sad to say. If only....The people and place you write about do not need fancy endings. I know them, anyone of them can be my family, and may even be! Let it stand on it's own. It's more real to the people & culture where you have been privi to trod. We are not an open people to outsiders, but you got a true glimpse. Keep it true.

     
  • At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    I would write the ending of truth over happy Hollywood ending. Real life isn't always wrapped up in a neat package with a perfect bow on top. That Jerry may be lost but still has people to lean on may just be a happy enough ending. I think to do the story (and the people) justice, it would be better not to trump up the reality of it and leave the ending enigmatic enough for people to draw their own conclusions about how happy the people within the story are after the funeral.

    Well told, well written, and definitely interesting. Thanks for sharing what you have!

     
  • At 10:11 AM, Anonymous jennie said…

    I think it depends on the purpose of your writing. If you want to tell a factual story from your perspective, then it has to stay on the historical path. But, I like the idea of taking parts of facts and using them as a basis for characters, creating new paths for them to take. I wonder if it would be difficult to take the factual start and fictionalize the rest - if you would have conflicting feelings as the writer and creator of a story vs. what you see happening to the character in your actual life.

    If it were to take a fictional turn, I think it would be very interesting to flash back to different places in time and have the background of the story told from different perspectives to further develop the characters and tie their place in the funeral - Jerry, Nanny, the sisters, your husband.

     
  • At 11:06 AM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    B.A., the truth shrooth. You're telling a story. Sure you may have been inspired bu real people, events, and a real place...but they exist for the rest of us through YOUR storytelling and YOUR imagination. You can take and make whatever you want out of the story. Ask yourself, are you writing fiction or a memoir? I'm not saying you have to go all Hallmark on it to create a satisfying ending; just that you have the creative license to develop the story however you see fit. I would imagine though, that whether you stick to the facts or not there are going to be people whose lives this somewhat reflects that will not be happy with you. good luck!

     
  • At 7:51 AM, Blogger Jen said…

    Truth......it's what is right.

     

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