I guess it won’t be as easy as I thought, finishing this thing off. I sort of imagined that it would be—it’s just another entry, after all. But it’s the last one, which has always carried a certain amount of weight in matters of the word. The written word, anyway. The final chapter, the unexpected twist, the last line before the curtain falls. We put a great deal of stock in finales—of books, holidays, relationships—imagining that we must have closure, must bring things to a clear and purposeful end. But I’m not really a big believer in that. Never have been.
In my own work, I have always strived to give an honest finish to a given story. Not happy, not sad, not surprising. Just honest. Now, many times said stories have ended in ways that were unconventional—that is, outside of the tidy confines of what I was taught as a child or in the classroom. But I am only interested in my work concluding in a way that is true to the characters and the tale, without concern for the needs or wishes of the audience. Just because my readers or viewers may have been raised on stories that have convenient conclusions—endings that allow them to fall asleep easily or get back to the ordeal of living—I feel no desire or requirement to do the same in my own work. I am not a baby sitter.
And that’s why I’m having trouble now bringing this thing to a close. I could easily ramble on about my diet—which is true, by the way, but I’ve been doing it for a long time now and have lost well over 50 pounds—or give another shameless plug for McDonald’s, but that would be too easy. Most of what I wrote these past few days was simply a lark; hell, I don’t even go to McDonald’s any more. Haven’t for a long time. I’m not even sure if McRibs are available right now—I can’t believe one of you didn’t take the time to check into that. You certainly seem to have extra time on your hands if you read my babblings and then feel moved to respond.
Not that it wasn’t fun to read your thoughts and rants—it’s amusing to watch how territorial people can be when they have such little territory to protect. There were some kind thoughts mixed in there as well and that’s always fun—who doesn’t like a warm pat on the shoulder? But I don’t need it, I really don’t. It’s pretty much the same way I feel about my critics; I’m very happy that you took a look at the work, say what you want to about it, but don’t expect me to get all worked up if you don’t like it.
Actually, I’m kind of fascinated by this whole Internet thing—why we like it, what good or ill it’s done for us as a people, that kind of deal. Experts want us to believe that it has brought the world together, and maybe that’s true. But it seems to have brought us together in the dark, sitting alone in a backroom somewhere in our underwear, talking to others without the simple graces that 5-year-olds learn on their first day of kindergarten. The world can be an even bigger, more mischievous oyster when it’s hidden away, done in private, behind closed doors. Yeah, yeah, I know, this whole computer thing has been great for research and term papers and made it much easier to get the new John Grisham novel delivered right to your doorstep, but I can’t help feeling that it casts a certain shadow over us, a darkness that makes it just that much simpler to be as grim or bad or alone as we want to be. Hey, but that’s probably just me talking. I should get some breakfast—don’t worry, it’ll be very healthy and sensible—and I’ll feel much better. But really, you folks should get out more.
But I’m a writer, for better or worse, that’s what I do. So I’ll throw a little bit more free advice out there and leave it at that. If you want to write, then do it. Don’t go to Starbucks with your computer so that people see you typing, just write. A student of mine once called it putting in the “desk time,” and I think that’s as good a name for it as any. It’s a lonely pursuit and it’s work and it’s hard. You can write anything you want, can sell almost anything you want, but you have to put in the time. I know plenty of people who call themselves writers—I know less who can actually hand me something to read. And it’s the same for any job you can mention. If you want to do it, then find a way.
So get to it. Shut up already and make it happen. Get on out there and do whatever it is you want to do or be. Don’t forget to spend time with your children—they’re the greatest gift that this earth ever dreamed up—and turn your damn computers off once in a while. Don’t worry, they’re not going anywhere.