I don’t’ write them.
I’ve tried, honestly I have, and they come off as being not quite real, somewhat Pollyannaish at best and cliché and cloying at the worst.
And of course, nobody, I mean nobody would publish them. And now I’m glad they didn’t.
Now don’t get me wrong. I, like the Waco Kid in the film Blazing Saddles, do love a happy ending. And even though I don’t’ always write the happy ever after ending, I do give my characters the opportunity to dust themselves off and start their lives over again.
Take for instance, my latest novel, Glorious. This novel is not a happy story. It’s a gritty, dirty tale of angst, madness, abuse and racism. I could have left it at that. But that would have turned the story into a pessimistic, mean spirited tale that would have had no substance. It would have been especially brutal had everyone died. But that didn't happen, thankfully.
There were, like in every disaster story, survivors. And the survivors find love, hope, encouragement and balance in their lives afterwards.
It took the burning of a town to do it, but yeah, my characters grew and in ways I wasn’t expecting.
One of those survivors was Laura Gilmer, who made the mistake of a lifetime by marrying a man who was clinically insane. Of course she didn’t know that at first. That came two months later, after an abortive attempt at an exorcism. And even though she realized she made the mistake, she made a second one by going back to the man who began drugging her in order to make her the obedient little Stepford wife he desired.
Of course we can all sit back and shake our heads and say, ‘why in God’s name did she do that? If it was me, I’d (fill in the blank)
The thing is, even strong minded people can err during trying times. And we all know at least someone, either male or female, in an abusive relationship. And we have all clucked our tongues at that abusive couple and asked ourselves the same question. Why in God’s name would they stay with that person?
There is no easy answer, as Laura herself discovered.
Laura, who was nobody’s fool, had found herself in a situation where she could no longer financially support her daughter, Emily. Stan made the proposal, she took it. And when she stormed out of the house fully intent upon leaving him after the awful incident at “church” (and I use that term loosely), she realized that she had landed herself right back into the same situation as before. Destitute, weak due to her recovery from hepatitis, and having Child Welfare breathing down her neck. It was Laura’s fear of losing Emily that drove her back to Stan. It was Stan’s wealth that kept her home even after the drowning incident that left Emily brain damaged.
But wait, you said there was a happy ending? So where is it?
Well, yes and no. Laura gets her wish in the end. But she has to claw her way through her life to get it. But isn’t that the way life is? Very few of us are born into a privileged world where everything is handed carte blanche to us. We have to fight for whatever we desire, and Laura was no exception.
There wasn’t a happy ending to Glorious. But there was a resolution. A resolution where Laura could stand upright and strong, on her own two feet. She found her own brand of courage, her own insights, her own inspiration. Life promises nothing, not even the chance to inhale after we exhale. But we can make the most of what we’ve got. Laura did the same. And in the end, I was proud of her.
Causes Patricia Snodgrass Supports
The Hunger site
Children's Miracle Network
American Cancer Society
The American Heart Association