Why is it so hard to write a good ending? Why do we struggle and agonise and draft and redraft and throw it all away to start again, usually more than once? I wish I had a gloriously psychological answer that delves into how writers don’t want to let go of the worlds and characters they have spent so much time immersed in and therefore subconsciously sabotage themselves. Instead, I have the opposite – a horribly simplistic reason that won’t make any writer feel any better or any more capable of writing a good ending.
So what is it? Why, regardless of whether we are writing a poem, a short story, an article, non-fiction or a novel, do we struggle to write good endings? Well, it all comes down to this: it’s hard!
Told you it was simple. Frustratingly, annoyingly, head-scratchingly, solution-defyingly simple.Continue reading
In 2005, I was studying for a master’s degree in writing. I was also into my eleventh year of living with my grandparents, Alf and Betty. What had been an invitation to stay with them when I was 17 and moving to Melbourne from Bendigo to study a bachelor’s degree had extended into another two-year course, my first job, my second job, my third job and my fourth job. It was during my fourth job that I decided to study for my master’s degree part time.
One of the subjects was called Writing History. Because I had such immediate access to Alf and Betty, I decided to write my major project about them. We had some wonderful conversations about growing up, when they met and their life together. The first eulogy that follows was taken from that project. I was also asked to write a second more personal eulogy, which follows the first. I almost can’t believe I had to write two. And even more unbelieveable is the fact that I actually got up to read the second one myself because I don’t do public speaking, ever, and my debut performance was at my grandmother’s funeral.Continue reading
I am not good with death. Perhaps no one is good with death, although doctors and funeral directors must deal with it so often that they develop coping mechanisms. I haven’t developed any yet. Possibly (and luckily) because I haven’t been exposed to it too often. That was until the last few years.
In 2012, my cousin Scott died unexpectedly. In 2013, my second cousin Zac died unexpectedly as well. And this year, my 89-year-old grandmother Betty died. It wasn’t unexpected – at that age, it can’t be. But it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s unexpected or not. All types of death are equally difficult to comprehend, to accept.
For the funerals of both Zac and my grandmother, I was asked to write eulogies. Normally a writer is so pleased to be asked to write anything. But normally you don’t cry through every word as you type it on the page. Normally there’s a happy ending. Or one of your own choosing anyway. Nobody would choose this. Nobody who had a choice would choose death.
These are the times when I wish I wasn’t a writer. So nobody would ask me to write a eulogy. Because there are no words. Nothing that can make it right. Nothing that can do justice to who they were when they were still alive, nothing that can do justice to how perfect they were in their imperfect lives.Continue reading