Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happily Ever After?

This might seem like a weird confession for a writer of romance to make, but here it goes: 

I don't believe in Happily Ever Afters. 

Please disregard what it says in my little blurby thing. I was probably drunk or delusional when I wrote it. Not to say that I'm always drunk, and not to say that delusional always picks up the slack when I'm not... Let's just say that life is more interesting when you have no idea what's going to happen next, and get to the point. Which was that I don't believe in Happily Ever Afters.

There is an implication, at least I think there is, that living happily ever after is boring. It implies a life free of conflict and strife, and who the hell wants one of those? Conflict and strife define us. They make us stronger. They teach us important things about ourselves. They make real life interesting, and they're absolutely essential in fiction. 

I also think relationships are more complicated and interesting than Happily Ever Afters. At least, they should be. 

I first had a problem with HEAs when I was a child. 

"And they all lived happily ever after," my mother said, and closed the book. 

"But what happens next?" 

"They all lived happily ever after." 

"But what did they do?" 

"It doesn't say. It can be whatever you want." 

But surely if it was as exciting as what had come before, someone would have written it down? 

But you know the thing I hate most about Happily Ever Afters? The next words are always The End. Close the book, go to sleep, the story's done. And that's just not good enough. I don't want to leave a stagnant world when I close a book. I want to leave it changing, vibrant, alive.  

Maybe I just hate to reach the end of a story. Maybe that's the real reason I choose to write Happily For Nows. Leave that door open just a bit, so there's always a way to go back. 

As a reader, I like that. As a writer, I love it. That's my happily ever after right there. 

Do you prefer an HEA or a HFN?


J.A. Rock said...

I am so happy to hear a romance author say this. I usually find HEAs dull and unrealistic. It's not that I don't ever want to be able to imagine characters living a relatively pleasurable and stable existence. It's that I want fiction--even escapist fiction, even fantasy--to illuminate something true about being alive and being human.

And humans are not happy all the time. Not even after they find true love. Especially not after they find true love.

I don't even think it's possible for any two people in any significant relationship to like each other all of the time. And that's a beautiful thing.

Know how we solve this?

"And they lived happily ever after.




Lisa said...

Lol! I love it!

Actually, everything I think about HEAs can be summed up by Stephen King: "And will I tell you that these three lived happily ever after? I will not, for no one ever does. But there was happiness. And they did live."


J.A. Rock said...

Stephen King is wise.