Unhappy endings

“When you write happy endings you are not taken seriously as a writer.” 

This quotation is attributed to writer Carol Shields in a book called More Women’s Wicked Wit, a compilation of sayings put together by Michelle Lovric in 2003.

This month, one of the books I’m reading is Janice Galloway’s Collected Stories. A tribute on the front cover reads, ‘She gets beneath the surface of life and exposes the bones… Writing has rarely been so visceral.’ The Times Literary Supplement describes her as one of Scotland’s ‘most gifted and original writers.’

The stories I’ve read so far have been vivid and powerful, with a strong and distinctive voice. Some of the characters have crept off the page and followed me around for days, and no, I haven’t found any happy endings yet. Her story Fearless concludes with the words,  ‘The outrage is still strong and I kick like a mule.’ I am discovering slowly what this amazing writer has to say; trying to understand what makes her so…… angry.

Janice Galloway’s stories are extremely well crafted. I want to write as well as she does, but I do like endings that have a sense of hope about them, even if they’re not wildly, or even moderately, happy. Surely a writer can do this, and be taken seriously as well.

FROG: (checking the frogspawn) P1110339

I’m hoping for a happy ending here.