I didn’t used to have trouble with endings. I remember one of the first stories I wrote. I typed it up on an actual typewriter on our kitchen table and illustrated it by hand and took into school. I was maybe eight years old. I guess it was a homework assignment, or else I was just really eager. I remember nothing about the story except the last line:
‘Tattie was silhouetted against the sunset.’ THE END.
Tattie was a sheepdog, in my story. I lived on a farm at the time and a lot of the books I loved were about animals: horses mostly, but dogs were good too. I read a lot, and liked big words. I spelt ‘silhouetted’ right.
I was happy with the story. I felt like I’d done a good job.
The teacher called me out in front of the class, and accused me of plagiarism. The shame! The outrage! You feel a lot when you’re eight.
By the way, did you know there’s a special hormone in tears you cry from sadness that isn’t present in other types of tears (onion tears or laughter tears or whatever)? It affects the surface tension or chemistry or something so that your tears stay big and fat and sit on your cheek for an extra-long time in order to make everyone who sees you feel worried and sorry that you’re sad. I learnt this recently. My baby at home cries big fat tears quite often. I’m always threatening to bottle his tears and sell them: genuine baby tears cried by a genuine sad baby. There has to be a market for this stuff.
Anyway. Back to my story about my first story. There were accusations. There were tears. There was probably some kind of note from my mum, who’d watched me write the damn thing at the kitchen table the night before. There was probably some sort of apology from the teacher, I would assume. I don’t remember any of that stuff. I do remember how it stung though, the assumption that I’d lied and made something out to be my own that wasn’t.
And I remember that last line.
I don’t know why I remembered this tonight. I’m exhausted and I have another bazillion words to write for nanowrimo before I’m allowed to go to bed, and I’m procrastinating by doing a blog post. Blogcrastinating! I don’t think anybody would read my current work and accuse me of plagiarism. I am struggling to see to the end.
I find it strange how these little resonances in life, things from long ago, return sometimes, not quite settled in memory.