I never realized how important short-term memory was to happiness until my father began to lose his. If I tell him I’m going to visit, he forgets the moment we hang up. He’s happy when I get there, but he misses out on the anticipation. Last summer, he kept forgetting to be excited about the Indians games. We all need things to look forward to, in life and in fiction. Many of us turn to fiction for exactly that: the sense of expectation that our real lives at times may lack.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of tension in fiction. Tension involves a possible threat to or question about a positive outcome. That counterpoint is essential. We need hope. We want to see mysteries resolved, a couple united, a soul redeemed. We read on because we want to believe. Not every story has a happy ending, but we crave something to look forward to, even if instead it’s justice served or the satisfaction of insight.
The past year was a difficult one for many, and the future is uncertain. We worry about our families, our friends, our country, our planet. The future of humankind. Hope may be something we have to work at consciously. In your writing, and in your life, I’d like to encourage you to look forward. To forge a new path for your readers and yourself.
Happy New Year, Ellen. Another thought provoking piece and a very fitting photo.
Happy New Year, Terri! I’m so glad you like the photo. Paths in the woods really speak to me. Thanks for your kind comments.
So lovely, Ellen, wistful and wise and what we need to hear now. Sending hope and hugs your way. xo
Thank you, Barb. You have a way of finding the beauty in things, which always brings hope to me.
Beautifully expressed, Ellen, as always.
Thanks so much, Joyce. Best wishes for a happy new year!
Tension and anticipation: how closely they lie next to one another, but how different they feel. I have a family member just entering the bewildering path your father is on, and tension is winning out over anticipation these days. Thank you for the helpful thoughts, Ellen.
You put it beautifully, Jan. But I’m sorry to hear about your father. I wish you and your family all the strength and love you’ll need to see this through.
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