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Finding the End

Melanie Smith

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Mine has a beginning and a middle, but no end. For weeks now I've been staring at blank pieces of paper and re-reading my story over and over again, trying to find an ending that fits. I have actually written three different endings already but when I read them together with the rest of the story they just don't work. The actions of the characters don't seem the natural actions they would take; they seemed forced. It's like I can't remember the characters; they used to be so vivid in my mind. No matter what I do I just can't get them back. I've read my story hundreds of times, and read all the little notes I've made about my characters. I even listened to some songs, which used to remind me of certain scenes within the story. I need to do something more extreme.

           I have come to the conclusion that in order to solve a problem you have firstly to know what caused it. The first reason that comes to mind is writers block, but I don't actually have a problem with writing, as I have already written three reasonably well-written endings, and based on that I also know that I am not lacking imagination. I recall when I first began writing this story, it was inspired by a day out I took on my own last year. I went to Sandsend on the east coast, near Whitby. I remember walking around the village thinking that it was such a beautiful place. I took photos of the buildings, cliffs, beaches and coves, so that I could look at them and summon up the feelings that the place gave me. I got thinking about what it would be like to live there, and that's when I saw a teenage couple walking along through the woods on the cliff. Over the next few days a story started to develop in my mind about those two people. I imagined them to live in one of the Bed and Breakfasts on the sea front. That is the only time I've been to Sandsend. Last night I started thinking that another journey to Sandsend might be just what I need to figure out the ending to my story. What better place to be? I'm already nearly there, about thirty minutes away, just starting to go over the moors. I've just had a vision in my mind of Callum on a bus alone just as I am going over these same moors, and he's travelling back to Sandsend. Callum, like me is returning to Sandsend to get answers. Like me he has only ever been there once before, but he was there for about a week, and he didn't leave it as long as I have before returning. He returns to put an end to the mystery of his father and I am going back to find an end to the story which is partly about him. The bus is beginning to go down a steep winding slope into the village. I can see the beach laid out in front of the houses and the Bed and Breakfasts. A small river flowing towards the ocean interrupts the row of buildings along the sea front, and an old narrow bridge, barely wide enough for the bus to cross, is the only way of getting from one side of the village to the other. It's strange to think I'm going past the same guesthouses as in my story. The setting is coming to life in front of my eyes. I will soon be able to walk along the cliff and in among the coves where Callum and Katolina frequently hide out. Perhaps that's how it could end, with the two of them back in one of their special meeting places. I am now lying on the cliff where Katolina often goes, to think and have a break from the busy village filled with tourists. There are light winds whistling through the oak trees, and sea gulls calling out for food and hovering around the fishing boats. If I look further out to sea I can see the ships floating by towards Whitby harbour. By being here I am becoming my characters, by experiencing the things they do. Now that I have made my journey back here, walked along the cliff top, ventured into the coves and walked the length of the beach. I have one thing left to do. I am sitting on the stone steps leading down to the beach after just having come out of the very guesthouse where Katolina and Callum live. I persuaded the owner to let me see inside, and go into the kitchen and even up into the attic. Once I'd explained to her why I wished to look around, she thought it was wonderful that a story was being written where the two main characters live in a Bed and Breakfast based on hers, and was only too happy to let me look around, with her watching me of course. While in the attic I imagined myself once again as Katolina, sitting in the attic looking through all the old family belongings. Of course I wasn't looking through theirs, just imagining. The owner also let me into the bedroom on the top floor (as no guest was currently staying in that room) so that I could sit on the window ledge as I imagined Katolina would have, with the windows wide open looking out over the sand and the ocean. I'm waiting for the next bus to arrive to take me back home. From where I am sitting I have a perfect view of the beach, cliffs, and the coves and right behind me is Katolina's home. Now all around me my characters are dancing, acting out the ending to their story.

© 2004 Melanie Smith, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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