Sometime this past year, I stumbled upon a blog review of one of my books. The blogger (I'm not going to link to him because I'm not that good and open-minded a person) said the end of my book activated his gag reflex.
Needless to say, that gave me something to think about.
I've been thinking about it a lot these past few days after finishing up The Durand Cousins. I eliminated the last two paragraphs of the book soon after I wrote them not because they made me gag but because they just weren't working. As I explained to a family member, in my experience, if something doesn't work in a manuscript, I probably don't need it. The story is probably better off without it.
I believe that The Durand Cousins is better off without those two paragraphs, but I realized that what dropping them left me with was a Gauthier ending.
Many of my books end with the main character experiencing a moment. Everything he or she goes through leads to a moment of not necessarily happiness but maybe satisfaction or comfort or enlightenment. But just a moment. The satisfaction or comfort or enlightenment isn't something that can last and create a happily ever after scenario. In fact, that was what the two paragraphs I ditched Saturday morning were about. Soon the character was going to experience more worries and work. What she was feeling was only for that moment.
Those moments might be interpreted as uplifting and hopeful, which is what some kidlit gatekeepers believe is required of children's literature (and what that blogger probably found gag-inducing). However, while I've been writing endings for around twelve years now, I didn't know about the uplifting and hopeful philosophy until very recently. Those endings might also be interpreted as a bit zenny, but I didn't know anything about Zen until the last few years, either.
Therefore, I have to put the Gauthier endings down to my world view. I am interested in those times when a person can live in a really brief moment of true satisfaction, contentment, enlightenment, or something that is good, unaware that it is only a moment and, thus, really a cause for unhappiness because it won't last. Yup, those are good times, good times. We're lucky if we get them.