"I don't think I'll ever write a happy ending." Before the Razor of "At the Beach"

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This piece was actually created from a writing exercise for a class in graduate school, where we had to write a story based off of a postcard we were given. I know it’s sanctimonious to publish something from a writing exercise, but this piece is one of my favorites I’ve composed. It’s pure “me” because a great majority of it is pulled from different parts of my life. I used my niece as a background for the creation of the Khloe character, and the idea of what events in life, however horrific they may be, form us. My niece was rather quiet during the year she turned 2 for no specific reason, and I really wanted to use that notion, the idea of a child seemingly withdrawn into him/herself. No, my niece did not experience anything in the realm of what happens in the story, but that’s what I do when I write—I take a nugget of an idea and run with it. I’m driven to the darker side of stories, the uncomfortable. That can set up the trap of, “What terrible thing can I inflict upon this character?” So it’s a balancing act between the sweet and the macabre. I don’t think I’ll ever write a happy ending. I prefer the complicated. Plus not everything in our lives has that happy ending. Sometimes we are left with doubts, with questions, with fears.


My writing process is usually all or nothing. When I sit down to write, I usually produce a solid chunk of text within a few hours. I was never one who writes an outline, then a rough draft, and then a final. I just dive right in, with varying levels of success. I wish I could romanticize it, and say I write by a bay window, with a nice cup of tea, soft jazz music playing, and my dog sitting in my lap. But in reality, it’s more of me wearing a shirt covered with cheese stains, surrounded by empty coffee cups, a bad reality show playing on TV, and my dog chewing holes in his bed.

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