Is a Happily Ever Mandatory?

Photo: Couple by goodsophism (CC by 2.0)
Someone found a guest blog post I posted back in 2014, and asked if they could repost it on their blog, with credit.
I think that’s pretty cool. Mind you had to go and read it because I didn’t remember what I’d written for the post. I had been asked to write a post answering the question – Is a Happily Ever After Mandatory? And since I had never actually posted it here, on my blog, I thought it was high time that I did.
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Is a Happily Ever After Mandatory?
“…and they lived Happily Ever After.” Sigh. When the final pages of the book are closed and your hand is resting on the back cover, there is such satisfaction at a Happily Ever After ending. But does Happily Ever After mean what it used to mean?
In short…I love it. I read romances because for the most part I am guaranteed a HEA.
Kind of like fairy tales as a kid. They go through all these adventures and struggles and they get to live HEA. If I don’t get my HEA from a romance novel, I feel cheated and let down. I picked up a Romance novel for a reason. If I wanted an Unhappily Ever After, I would have picked up a different genre.
In long… If you think of some of the classic romance novels, they certainly didn’t get their HEA. Heathcliff and Catherine, Rhett and Scarlett, Romeo and Juliet, Tristian and Isolde. Some of them had Hero’s I despised, Heroine’s I hated and a great deal of bawling my eyes out at
the close of the back cover.
I think that at the time these stories were written, books served a different purpose. Romance novels explained human character, taught a lesson and explored many facets of how life was lived. Books don’t serve that purpose today. Romance novels are pure fantasy, unadulterated escapism and an excuse to shut out the harsh cold reality of life for a few hours. Of course we want a HEA…because
so often in ‘real life’ we don’t get it. We get day to day drudgery, the daily grind, screaming children, work (be that house or paid), traffic, illness, taxes and a husband who may well have come from another planet.
But a HEA doesn’t have to be the ‘traditional’ expectation. HEA doesn’t necessarily mean that they got married, raised a dozen perfect children and rode off into the sunset. (Who thought riding into the sunset was a good thing anyway? You can’t see with those late afternoon rays glaring directly into your eyes.) However a HEA means that at the end of the story, there is satisfaction that the hero and heroine have acknowledged their insecurities, opened their baggage, faced their fears and grown as characters. There is hope they will make it together, and an assurance that their love is going to last. They may still have issues to face, questions to answer, demons to fight and obstacles to conquer, but they are going to do it together. Whatever it takes. And that is a HEA ending in my book.

Hello, again.

Just a quick post to let you know I haven’t died. I have now officially moved, and most of the unpacking is done. I’m starting to sort things out and focus on writing again.

While unpacking, looking for work and completing assignments, I committed to NaNoWriMo. I really should have journalled my journey, but I didn’t think about it until now. Maybe, next year.

NaNoWriMo Logo
NaNoWriMo Logo

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. It’s a writing challenge in which you commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November, or an average of 1,667 words a day (which I think actually makes 50,010 words by the end of the month). It’s done by thousands of writers world-wide, which creates an amazing community of encouragement, and you upload your word count on the NaNoWriMo website. The goal is to have 50,000 words by the end of the month. You don’t have to finish the story, and you don’t have to have it perfect or even have all the scenes in the correct or final order. It’s just a challenge to sit your butt in a chair and write a minimum of 1,667 words a day for a month.

It’s been an interesting experience committing to writing a minimum of 1,667 words a day. A few days I really struggled to make it. I had to set smaller targets. I gave myself a goal of fifty words, then a reward, then another fifty words, then a reward, just to get through.
Other days I’d be so deep into the story I’d written over 3,000 words before I knew it.

Having that daily word target was a daunting, but at the same time, exciting. I think what made it possible was the accountability. I had writing buddies who could see my word count. They could tell when I slacked off. Which wasn’t often…only one day in the month did I not at least make the minimum word count. It was the next day when I pulled off the over 3,000 words, so I didn’t feel too bad. On the plus side, I had some very nice emails from my writing buddies encouraging me. And I sent a few of my own. It was awesome to see the efforts of my writing buddies. One of them even hit 50,000 words by the 20th of November and kept going. Awesome job.

While I have actually reached the target, I know that tomorrow the word count will drop. Everything I wrote in the month, I kept…because, well they were words I had written and for NaNoWriMo, that’s what counts. However, there are a few scenes that no longer fit into the story, so they need to go. I will need to continue to work on the story before it becomes a ‘manuscript’, it’s not finished yet.

I’m not sure I’m going to continue to write a minimum of 1,667 words a day after today, at least not until I’ve finished school. I think if I were to continue the daily word count, I’d have to find an accountability / writing buddy. I think I need that knowledge that someone else will know daily (weekly?) what my word count target should be versus what my word count actually is, otherwise, I think it would be too easy to find myself something else to do instead.

And that would be bad. Right?

The Keys or the Pen

Photo: Yesterday and Today by Lorenzo Tomada, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo: Yesterday and Today by Lorenzo Tomada, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but is it mightier than the keys?

When I first started writing I didn’t have a laptop or a tablet. I had an exercise book, a pen and an hour and half train commute to and from work. It was only after I got home that I would type up my notes and edit as I typed.

My husband used to complain that was married to my job (14-15 hour days with the commute) and had a love affair with my computer. Ah yes, the suffering cry of author spouses everywhere.

The other day I was going through my office when I found my old exercise books. Four years worth of stories written on the train and tram. It was amazing. The notes, the scribble outs, the change of pens. I had the entire history of my story right there. I could see my notes as to when I’d changed a character’s name, I could read beneath the scribbles and see where the story might have gone, I could see where I was thinking about things slowly because my handwriting would be neater; and I could see where the story was simply flowing from the pen, because, well…the handwriting curled itself into a scrawl and wobbled all over the place. I can also see which word(s) I constantly ‘spelled’ incorrectly back ‘than’.

I was taken back to the place and time. I remember writing this particular part at this station. I remember it was raining when I wrote that. I remember that it was freezing on that day, but I couldn’t wear my gloves because I wanted to write.

All through the pen colour, or the crinkled paper, or the crossed out thoughts, or the dried water droplet on the page smearing the ink.Read More »