Live the story, live the ending

Kaley Paterson (Voices/mug)Kaley Patterson
A&E Editor
@KaleyKayPatt

I’m terrible with conclusions, mainly when I’m writing pieces like this one. Sometimes it’s hard to start a story, but I have the most difficulty ending one.

I believe I’m one of those people who begins something and finishes it, but sometimes my endings are not as strong as they could be. There are times I’ll write something, have my friends read over it, and more times than I’d like, their critique is always about how the ending is weak.

I’ll go back and edit the conclusion, attempting to make the punch sting, but sometimes I can’t write anything that will leave even the slightest bruise.

I questioned my disability to one of my writer friends and she said, “Maybe you’re thinking too hard about making it meaningful and trying to make it stick in your mind. I think if you just write until you run out, it should work itself out.”

Thinking too much – I do that a lot. My mom has always told me that my excessive mind boggling is one of my vices. She has also repeated to me that I’m my own worst enemy, and I’m my biggest critic.

Photo by Charlene Belew

Photo by Charlene Belew

When I begin a project or a story, I start with the mindset that it has to be perfect – everything should fall into place smoothly, especially the ending. Except, perfection is unattainable, and I shouldn’t set the bar too high for myself. But I want my stories to be meaningful; I want them to stick.

I can hear Dr. Keller telling me, “Let the words speak for themselves.”

Every day, I’m writing a different story, whether it’s for The Collegian or a class, but I believe that while I’m typing these stories up, I’m crafting my own story – my life story. I believe the human life is a story.

Yes, there are many clichés that compare life to books and different seasons to chapters, but I can’t help to embrace them. One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, believes in the power of stories. He’s studied the different components of stories and started the Storyline Conference, where attendees can learn how to live a better story.

I’ve always wanted to attend one of Miller’s conferences, but they’re always held in a faraway state. Still, my desire to live a better story isn’t out of my reach; my story has already started.

Sometimes I think we focus too much on the beginning and the ending. If the story doesn’t captivate us at the beginning, then we’re probably not going to make it to the ending. If the punch line doesn’t stick, then we’re not going to remember it. We forget about the substance – the part of the story that supports the beginning and end.

All the chapters – memories, relationships and seasons – create our lives, and if we want to start living better stories and creating strong endings, then we should do it. Don’t just sit around and say you’ll do or try something someday – the time is now. Your story is working itself out without you even trying, so you might as well make it meaningful.

Your story can be rough sometimes. There will be good chapters you don’t want to end, and bad chapters you can’t wait to conclude, but when it seems like you’ll never see the ending, it just means you’re not done – keep writing; keep living your story.

Don’t worry about your conclusions. Write until you run out of words, and the ending will work itself out.

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