When endings aren’t endings


We all have our favorite book or movie endings. Those perfect denouements that surprise you or confirm what you suspected all along or make you weep with emotions you can finally release.

But for me, endings are rarely endings. (Although I’ve yet to read a book where everybody dies and the entire universe explodes. That might be the exception that proves my rule.)

People ask me all the time, “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer is always, “Where DON’T I get ideas?”

Magazine stories about something I never knew to be of interest to me, a snippet of conversation I hear while shopping, a particularly interesting face I see at a restaurant, memories of my own, airport drama I eavesdrop on, stories my friends tell of growing up, a newspaper blurb that leaves me with more questions than answers, a piece of art hanging in a museum, an old photo I stumble on in an antique store, a dream so real I remember all the details, a disjointed turn of phrase from a novel, a what if so compelling it keeps jabbing at me until I pay it some attention.

Ideas are why endings are rarely endings for me. Even if a story is tied up with a neat little bow, I always tack on another chapter in my head. And another. And another. It’s the difference, I think, between a writer and a reader. Or maybe between readers and nonreaders.

In my head, tomorrow is indeed another day for Rhett and Scarlett. In fact, they’ve probably had a month of tomorrows in my brain, all while wearing spectacular clothes.

I know the games Christopher Robin and Pooh will play in the Hundred Acre Wood tomorrow, next week, and next year. And I know that some dopey do-gooder will insist that Eeyore get some anti-depressants and that Tigger needs some Ritalin.

Just because Scout Finch never saw Boo Radley again doesn’t mean I haven’t.

Now as I reread what I’ve written here, I sound a bit wacky. So, please, please tell me that you tack on extra endings to books and movies like I do. Or at least pretend you do so I don’t look so crazy.

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