One of the hardest parts of writing–and often of real life–has to be the endings. I’ve been working on The Words We Hold Deep for about a year or two (I have young children so my sense of time is pretty warped right now). And from early on, I had an idea of how I wanted the story to end. But now I’m not so sure.
In The Words We Hold Deep, Willow goes through an emotional journey, losing her grandmother, confronting her absentee mother, and examining how the past is affecting her future with the man she loves. She’s been put through the wringer, so of course I want her ending to be nice and tidy. And happy. But what is most important is for me to find the ending that stays true to the story and to the characters.
I consider myself a realist, the type that hopes for the best but plans for the worst. Life is wonderful, but it is also hard and complicated and messy. You live paycheck-to-paycheck or are diagnosed with an incurable disease or lose a loved one. You get fired or work eighty-hour weeks. You worry about being too much or not enough. Even those who appear to have picture-perfect, fairy-tale lives have their struggles.
Our job as humans isn’t necessarily to be happy all the time. It is to continually learn and grow from our experiences. And my job as a writer is to put my characters in situations that will test them, and then sit back and see if they sink or swim. I can throw them a lifeline, but I can’t be the one to pull them out of the water.
So how do I figure out how to end my book? The same way I’ve tried to write it from the beginning. Put myself in my characters’ shoes and let my fingers dance across the keyboard, without stopping to over-analyze or over-think anything. Just like how in real life you get through the tough times one step, one moment, at a time.
We can still head down the road towards happily ever after, hoping we get there one day, but it’s important to recognize the beauty and the lessons in all of the bumps along the way. And that is what I hope my book will show readers.