The End of the Line
Ends are hard. Hard to envision. Hard to get into words. How much angst? How much comfort? How much hope for the future? How do I, the writer, give my readers the closure their hearts are crying for without making it soapy or fluffy or trite? How do I give them an inkling that the story is not quite over while still wrapping up most of the loose ends I’ve left dangling? Can I bring in a solution out of nowhere (cue ‘beam me up, Asgard’) or a villain we’d never met (CM’s Season 8 finale’s John Curtis. Who?) without my readers cursing my name and tossing my story into the fires of hell?
And then there’s the – sometimes inevitable – character death. Huge warnings should come with this twist. And hankies. And, perhaps, self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the hate mail. (Joss, Davies, we’re not going to ‘get over it’.) I wrote my first ‘major character death’ fic not that long ago. Really, really hard to do!! But endings are like that. It’s hard to say goodbye, hard to give our most favorite characters, our friends, our heroes some time off. A break until next week. Or next year. Or longer. Or forever.
In episodic television, we have built-in hope. We have next week’s episode to look forward to. We have the (sorta) guarantee that no main character is going to be lost. (I know, I KNOW! But he came back the very next season!!) We can wait a week. Or two. Over the summer hiatus. For a year while the actors take off to make major films. For a really, really long time until the director/writer gets his cabeza out of his mikta. Sigh.
I went to some Torchwood panels at DragonCon. Loved listening to those beautiful Welsh vowels, hearing the funny stories, the light-hearted memories of the cast and crew. But, no, John Barrowman, I will not be writing/emailing/tweeting to BBC to demand more Torchwood. Not unless they resurrect Ianto Jones. I see no point. There is no Torchwood without Ianto for me. He’s the innocent with the secret past, the everyman, the one people root for. In order to be Torchwood, there must be Ianto Jones and it must be set in Cardiff, Wales.
As Gareth David Lloyd said, Ianto’s death was not a good death. It was not earned. It did not cement his place as a hero within the Torchwood canon as did Owen and Tosh’s deaths. It was meaningless and stupid. (When is ‘death by alien fart’ ever going to be epic, I ask you???) You cannot just kill off beloved characters all willy-nilly. You can do it, but you must do it perfectly and not often. Just ask Joss.
Ends. Why do we hate them? Perhaps because, in our real lives, they come all too frequently. As a person who has lost a Shakespearean amount of people close to me within the past few years, I tell you this: ends suck. There’s always something left unsaid. There’s always guilt. Grief. Misery. Loss. Don’t ask me to live through it with my make-believe family and friends, too.
As usual, we look to The Rolling Stones for some wisdom on this subject.
“You can’t always get what you want … but if you try sometimes, you might find …
You get what you need.”
At the end of Forever in a Day, no one wanted Sha’re to die. But she did. And Daniel and Teal’c got closure. And Sha’re herself got an end to her suffering and slavery.
Good ends, bad ends, unemotional, logical ends. Walk-aways. Shock endings. Lame puns. Really bad old-age makeup. Shawarma. Ripley and the cat in a cryo-chamber. Whether they tear us apart or make us laugh; make us scream with frustration or with joy, ends are necessary. The story needs a stopping place, a goal, the Journey’s End.
This journey – the journey of DragonCon – is over for me. It started about four years ago with a group of fantastic ladies who made friends quickly and latched onto my heart. It continued with the discovery of fans of programs I had always assumed only mattered to me. With like-minded individuals who spend a lot of time thinking about the plotting and characters of stories. With other writers. With people who are not afraid to dress up in costume and have fun.
It’s time for that journey to end.
A burgeoning ‘membership’ of 65,000+ people that has led to lines for panels that wrap city blocks. Twice. Expensive hotel rooms that lessen their guest services every year. A Dealer’s Room that is far-removed and badly planned. Long drives, hot weather, waiting, waiting, waiting. A Stargate Fandom that is down to its smallest, most devoted kernel of fans. I’ve done that and have multiple t-shirts, photos, and autographs to prove it.
I’ll miss my ladies the most.
Thanks for the memories, DragonCon! For the panels and the parties, for the fast friends and line-sitting buddies. For the wonderful stars who are never too busy to chat for a minute. For the writers who have inspired me with their insight. For Nick Brendon’s snoopy dance. For GDL’s Atlanta skiing. For Marina’s sweet words about our mothers. For the enthusiasm of Steampunk and the age-old wisdom of Doctor Who.
It might not be what I want, but it’s what I need. And, hey, you never know when I’ll make a guest appearance as a ghost or a memory or a flashback, wavy lines and all.
It’s time for me to write. To concentrate on this new road opening out beneath my feet. To turn my mind to my own characters and plots, twists and turns, worlds and wonders. I’m excited about turning ‘From Fan to Pro.’ I cannot freakin’ wait!
Because ends can be beginnings, too.