I’m not really sure how I want to begin this letter- though I think I know how I want to end it. I think that’s because I always think of the end of a story as the most important part. It’s always been that way for me. There is nothing I loathe so much as an unfinished story, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and lingers in my brain for days and weeks and years. It doesn’t happen often when I’m just reading books. Most of the time, the author has the courtesy to finish what he’s writing before he publishes it. But when I dabble in manga or comics or television and other serial forms of story telling, I’ll occasionally fall in love with a story that has no ending, and it eats me up like a wound that won’t heal.
That’s why I think- I know- I’ve never been willing to try and tell my story. People don’t like stories without ending. They want to hear how the hero rises to glory or falls to defeat. They don’t want to hear how she lingers on, unsure and unsteady. What kind of ending can there possibly be, if the hero does not either overcome or succumb to the trials they face? Not a good ending. And I don’t feel like I’ve reached a good ending- that I’ll ever reach a good ending. There is no conclusion, no riding off into the sunset, no happily ever after or horribly ever after. There is just me, continue to linger like the last note someone sings off key during a ‘Happy Birthday’ hanging in the air. I’ve been afraid, for a long time, that in telling my story, I would have to admit that there is no ending for what I’m dealing with- only continuation.
The truth is, I would never let myself consider the possibility of satisfaction without a concrete place to stop. And stories might work like that, but life doesn’t. And I’m slowly learning that a part of living is understanding that it just keeps going until it doesn’t. And the quality of the story you’ll tell isn’t limited by where you chose to end it.
Thank you for that. You don’t know, you’ll never really know, but you were part of the reason I learned that. That’s what I meant, when I said I knew how I wanted to end this letter. There are so, so many stories over the years that have made me who I am today. There are so many stories that have inspired me to write. But Charlie, while you may not have been the reason I started writing, I promise you this- if someday this is all written down for real, and other people read it and relate to it and are inspired by it in turn- that will have been your doing.
Today I was able to sit and read a book, all the way through, for the first time that I can remember since… well since the last time a long time ago. It was your book. And it did not end nice or pretty or with a happily or horribly ever after. It did not end because your story was over. But it ended. And it made me realize that maybe that’s enough.