How to end a story?


There is this one question which hunts me like a werewolf in a full moon, namely: “How to end a story?” No, no, no… start all over again! You butchered it as always. Don’t talk like that with your audience, your readership or those millions-gazillions, tons, meters and foots. You have to personalize or at least to personify. Make it concrete. Be a little more precise. Use vivid and colorful imagery. Hypnotize and spellbind. Understood? Good. Woof. Woof. Now, continue. So where were we? Aah… One, two and go!
There is this one question which hunts me like a werewolf in a full moon, namely: “How to end MY story”? Yes. This is the correct semantic form and it rings so true. Very good. It is MY story. MY story. In capital letters. Majuscules. Sounds much better. Please, go on. Ride the wave of inspiration!

I am an author, I should know. I should know how to end my story, don’t you think? No, no, no…when will you learn? You cannot ask your readership, those millions-gazillions, tons, meters and foots. They will notice this as an artificially placed literary device. Better get rid of the question and let the facts speak for themselves. State only the obvious. Omit the question mark! Try again. Take two.

I am an author, I should know. I should know how to end my story. But I don’t. You don’t? Then why are you writing this claptrap and wasting my, – oh pardon, I mean,- your readership’s valuable time? Think about those millions-gazillions, tons, meters and foots. Commit yourself. Remember! You are Cortazar. You are Joyce. You are Wilde. You are Beckett. You are Mihai. You are it. Believe! One, two, three. One, two, three. The Secret. In and out. May all beings be peaceful and happy. Put a smiley-face here 🙂 Take three.

I am an author, I should know. I should know how to end my story. But I don’t…
Well, of course, the first artistic or scholastic impulse would be to end the story right here with a thick black dot or a lanky comma and that would be it. Then, I could say that I have solved the puzzle and I have found the long-sought answer to my question. But all this would be false pretense and deliberate cheating for I haven’t really written anything yet apart from these sketches, introductory remarks and my inner dialogue with the mysterious voice within. How can I end something that hasn’t even begun? Obviously, I cannot. So I must write my story first. My story. Yes, highlight that in bold letters. MY STORY. Before applying the finishing touches, I have to begin to tell my story. But where to begin? And how? And why? Perhaps, my story has already begun without my knowledge and my involvement? My story without knowledge and involvement. Without a question mark it sounds different and less dramatic. But then, is it really mine? Is this my story? I am an author, I should know. But I don’t…
Pathetic. And you call yourself an author. There is no story. For heaven’s sake, will you ever stop drinking milk! Allow me to finish what I have started here. I have something very important to share with millions-gazillions, tons, meters and foots. Would you be so kind? Thank you.

Now, the question was about the ending, not the beginning of a story. The beginning of a story is an obvious red herring. Ignore it. What matters is the end, not the beginning. But without the beginning as the common wisdom goes, there would be no end. So we are kind of stuck in the middle of nowhere – limbo or Salt Lake city. But let’s assume that there is an end without a beginning. If that is so – and what a big “if” that is – then there is a beginning without an end. Do you follow my rational train of thought?
But if I begin to write my story, I won’t be able to tell you the answer to the question I asked at the very beginning for the answer to that question is not part of my story. How could that be, you could ask? I really don’t know, but obviously this sort of thing could happen to anyone. In fact, it happens to anyone. We all live in a double bind. A constant Catch 22. Not because it is some stupid law of nature, but because I just wrote it down here and it becomes true. If the end of the story is already mentioned in the beginning, then the story has no end, it has only a beginning. But if the beginning of the story is really its end, then the story has no beginning and it has only an end.
Of course, I could manipulate the story, so that it tells what I want, but the thing about stories is the following one: even though you might think that you can manipulate the story, in reality the story manipulates you. The story tells not what you want, but what it wants for itself or himself or herself (being politically correct and inclusivistic in my highly cultivated and polished literary approach I have used all these three grammatical forms for I am not sure if this story has any particular gender. For all I know, the story might be a she, a he or an it. But why on earth have I forgotten about the we? Well, of course, because we has no gender!). And if you don’t accept these rigid rules and closed systems, there are no stories to be told and no stories to be written. Your ink will be dry and your pen will be broken. And you yourself might contemplate a suicide. That’s just how it is. Point blank. Don’t argue with me and don’t argue with my story.

Now, to end the story, as already noted before, I must write it down first, which means that I must introduce a novel theme, develop a captivating plot, refine the passive characters – all and everything from A to Y -, specify the literary setting, create grotesque illusions, sacrifice a Bedouin or his camel, castrate an ox, eat the penis of a Chinese tiger, cast thousand and one spells and perform countless other rituals and magic tricks. If you have done all this and more, you are now ready to write that all-important and decisive last sentence that will grab the attention of your readership, those millions-gazillions, tons, meters and foots.
So, finally, after all the ups and downs, after we have slaughtered all the fallacies and errors of our reasoning on the royal road to heaven, we have arrived at this Hamletian juncture. How to end a story? But why end? Why not begin writing another one?  

Quod non habet principium non habet finem. What has no beginning has no end.


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