Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Real Life Doesn't have Resolutions

Last week I attended the sad celebration for the life of a young woman, daughter of some friends of mine, who had taken her own life aged 24. She had kept her despair well hidden - I certainly only saw her as an intelligent, vivacious and beautiful young woman with everything to live for, rather than the troubled soul she showed to her parents and siblings. At the service I stood next to her cousin, a year older, who kept saying she couldn't understand why.

And there isn't any answer to why. We'll never know what was truly going on inside her head, poor thing. We can only guess at the anguish that led to her to think the world would be better without her in it. There are no answers.

I was thinking about that conversation afterwards. How comforting it is to read - and write - fiction. There are answers. We can know what is going on inside the characters heads. And there are resolutions. Most novels start with something or someone disrupting the status quo, then the bulk is trying to resolve the problems that has created, and the end is when a new stability has been established.

I think that's why we read. Fiction has answers. It sorts problems out. Real life is cruel and sad and sometimes has no meaning at all. It happens, and continues happening. Fiction is finite. In 100,000 words or thereabouts it takes problems and solves them (or clearly hints that they are on the way to being solved). Yes, sometimes the ending is left open, but essentially, the main issue is resolved. Fiction provides security and reassurance in a scarily random world, and that has to be a good thing.

RIP Hannah. My thoughts are very much with you and your family.


Lizzie said...

Such a sad story, Sarah.

And you're quite right, as writers we can bring order to our world, resolve issues and give and happy endings to those who deserve them.

Have a good time in Birmingham.

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks Lizzie. Happy endings to those that deserve them...ah, if only the real world was like fiction.