Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guest Post by Eleanor Bluestein, author of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales

Somedays back, I had posted my review of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales by Eleanor Bluestein. You can read the review by clicking on the title. Eleanor was kind enough to write a guest post for me. Thanks Eleanor, for the guest post. I loved reading your thoughts about endings.

Guest Post for Gautami

Story Endings

At one time or another in the writing process, most of the stories in Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales had different endings than the ones that appear in the book. I’d keep working on the final scenes and changing them, even a year or more after the story was written. I was in a continuing search for the conclusion that felt emotionally and psychologically right.

Skin Deep, for example, is about a troubled beauty pageant contestant, Song Li, who has wanted to be a teacher all her life. To compete for the title of Miss Ayama Na, however, she has to leave college for a semester, and winning the beauty pageant will mean at least another year away from her studies. As it becomes increasingly apparent that Song is going to win, she becomes more and more anguished. So how should this story end? Should Song Li resolve her inner conflict and be a wholehearted competitor? Should she seek her mother’s advice? Should the King and Queen of Ayama Na intercede and speak with her? Should she withdraw from the competition? Should the story end without a resolution? Something else? I wrote all those endings before I wrote the “something else” that satisfied me. Skin Deep was the second story I wrote for the book, but I didn’t have the final ending until many of the other stories were complete.

In real life, you usually only get one shot at things, so the opportunity to redesign an outcome repeatedly is, for me, one of the rewards of writing fiction. It feels consoling and powerful.

In AIBO or Love at First Sight, I held Dali Roo’s fate in my hands. Would he get away with his crime? Would he get what he wants?

In The Blanks, I got to decide whether or not the tour guide would win his struggle with his conscience or let himself fall from virtue. I resolved that early on, but some time later decided to end the story with a scene in which the tour guide doesn’t appear at all.

In Hamburger School, I wrote four more pages beyond the end to give Mahala a shot at revenge, and then, months later, I lopped those pages off because I decided that revenge wasn’t the point of the story.

In The Cut the Crap Machine, I was after a certain feeling about the end of life. I kept shifting final scenes and paragraphs until I believed I had it, but some readers of this story tell me they just don’t get it. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts about story endings.

And if you read Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, and have a time to visit my website, contact me and let me know what you think of the endings of these stories--any or all of them. I’d love to know.

Thank you, readers, and thank you Gautami.


Friends, interview with Eleanor Follows. Do watch out ths space!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hello, ladies! I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, G. I've got this posted at Win a Book.