Completion, or Longing?

Longing, by Evelina Kremsdorf
Longing, by Evelina Kremsdorf

By far, the most common observation I get from people who read my work is: ‘why didn’t you tell us what happened “in the end”? or ‘I wanted to see what happened after that.’ For sometime I’ve puzzled over this, because where stories of peoples’ lives are concerned, for me “the end” occurs at their death (and maybe not even then) and “what happens after” may just be window-dressing. Pretty to look at with little function. So, for me, the wedding isn’t nearly as important as a couple’s struggle to decide that they should have one, the verbal ‘I love you’ not as significant as the myriad tiny ways that I can show two people as they journey toward experiencing that emotion.

And finally, where conclusions of my books are concerned, I think there may be a little misunderstanding. Here’s the thing: I never strive to give the reader a sense of completion. Instead, what I’m going for is longing.

long•ing

ˈlôNGiNG/

noun

  1. a yearning desire.

“Miranda felt a wistful longing for the old days”

synonyms:yearning, pining, craving, ache, burning, hunger, thirst, hankering;

Don’t get me wrong. There is something to be said for reading a book, leaning back in your chair and sighing as though you’ve just eaten a large (but not too large) but supremely satisfying meal. And when I want that feeling, I have some go-to-writers who can be counted on to give it to me. But for me, the books that stayed with me, the ones I never forget are the ones that end with some ambiguity and send my imagination soaring, or wandering through a dozen different potential scenarios. Those are the books that leave me in a heightened emotional state, sometimes euphoric and other times despondent, but always, always with a sense of wanting something; and that feeling for me is both maddening and strangely satisfying. For others, I realize, when I end a book that way, it’s simply frustrating but I can’t help it . . . it’s what works for me.

When I started writing, I used to try to give conclusive endings, but they felt wrong and contrived. I don’t like even the implication of an “ending”. I like the idea that we go on and on, learning more, making mistakes, hurting the ones we love, making amends and doing it all over again. So I end my books that way—with the promise of more to come, maybe, but never with a sense of utter completion.

I don’t mean this as a missive against those who call for me to write HEAs, but just as an explanation of where I’m coming from and where I want to go with what I write. Completion works for some writers, but not for me. I want to leave you aching, craving . . . longing.

Happy Reading!

N.

13 thoughts on “Completion, or Longing?

  1. I have never thought any of your work was lacking in any capacity. I like to use my imagination, sometimes before the book ends. For example, when I have stop reading in order to cook dinner or go to work I try to imagine what will happen in the next chapter… Plus, some of the characters are so flawed that a happily ever after ending just doesn’t fit!!! Love your books…

  2. I guess I’ve been reading way too many books that fall in the classic romance genre and have been conditioned to expect an HEA or HFN. But I get it. I suppose that we just love your characters so much that we want them to live happily ever after…. but alas real life ain’t like that. Love your work.

  3. Don’t change the way you write. It is what sets you apart from other writers and personally I absolutely agree that HEA does not always work. Keep doing what you are doing, it works.

  4. I’m so glad I read this because I just finished Afterwards and I wanted to smack you until I thought about it for a moment and then read this post. Just being so invested in these people and their journey you kinda wanna read that HEA especially once they finally seem to get it together but I can see your point as well. Don’t think I could do this too often, though cause you’ve got my heartburn acting up. Lol

    1. Well Candace, then you’ll be happy to know that I’ll be continuing Chris and Robyn’s story. And I think it’ll have just enough ‘completion’ to satisfy lovers of traditional romance. 😉

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