When the Chocolatiers first talked about sharing our writing journeys with you, I hesitated. I’d already talked about my beginnings on my own blog–when I first started writing creatively, when I started taking it more seriously, how I’ve developed into the writer I am today. I wasn’t sure I had any more to offer on the subject, but I like a good challenge so I decided to dig deeper.
See, I’m not one of those “I always knew I wanted to be a writer” types. As a child, I pretty much dreamed of a new career every time the wind changed direction. I first realized I liked to write in middle school when I entered into a creative essay challenge with my 7th grade English class, and I’ve loved writing essays and short stories ever since, but one event in my life made it all click for me.
Less than a year after I married my husband, my mom called me one afternoon to give me the news and I remember it all very clearly. I had just been in a car accident the week before and was at a used car dealership looking for a new one. It was a week before my birthday and a week before we had plans to leave the country on vacation. My sister had finally moved out of our family home and my mom called to tell me she no longer had any reason to stay. She was leaving my dad.
I can’t say it was a complete surprise. My dad isn’t the easiest man to live with and they’d had their problems over the 13 years they were together, but you know how you just expect they’ll always work through it? They’re your parents. They have to be together. Apparently, not this time.
I was an adult so it probably shouldn’t have been as hard on me as it was, but my entire world was shaken. I had just gotten married and everything I knew about marriage, I had learned from them. Now I felt like I knew nothing. How could I have a successful marriage based on a foundation that had been broken?
It was then that I realized something very simple about myself–something very naive and somewhat laughable. I don’t like unhappy endings.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Disney fairytale kind of girl. I like dramas. I like heartrending conflict. But when all is said and done, I want everyone to come out of it, you know…happy. Is that so much to ask?
Well, you know this world doesn’t work that way.
I didn’t start writing right after that but I think it’s what pulled the pin from the grenade. The bomb officially dropped not long after when a co-worker told me he and his wife were getting a divorce. A deep pain and yearning dug at me for no explainable reason at all. I barely knew the guy, yet I ached for him. And that was when I began my first novel attempt, because I had to give his story a happy ending. I just had to.
In life there are a lot of unhappy endings. Just this week, I heard the news that a colleague and friend of the family took his life. While we were never particularly close, my empathy meter has always been off the charts. I hurt for him and what he must have been going through to make that decision. I hurt for his 17- and 11-year-old daughters and how everything they feel and think about the world will be forever changed by this one event. There’s nothing I can do to make it different in this world but in the worlds I create, I get to choose the ending. There, I can make it better.
I began writing to put life in perspective. Writing is where I sort things out in my head, where I find my release, where things make sense, and where I have just a little bit of control.
And when I can’t find it anywhere else, writing is where I find my happy ending.