“Denouement” – (n) the resolution of a narrative
This word strikes a niggling chord in me. As much time as I spend scribbling away in notebooks and tapping away on keyboards I shy away from the label of ‘writer’. Surely, to be a writer you have to actually finish something? I’m nefarious for journeying through life without course or direction. I’ve held multiple jobs across numerous fields in a handful of different countries. I’m the one you might invite to tinker with the kitchen sink when it’s broken but weeks later you’ll find it’s still leaking. Jack of all trades – Master of none. I know I’m not alone, I’m a product of my generation – lost, confused, spoiled for choice. We were brought up believing that we could do anything. You want to be a superstar? Release a YouTube video. You want to be a writer? Start a blog. Now, I’m trying to stay afloat in a sea of aspirational writers all peddling their legs to churn milk into butter. Just the thought of having to finish this blog post makes me break out in a sweat. How am I supposed to carve the course of my life if I can’t even resolve the outcome of my fictional characters?
I think about some of my favourite writers – Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Silvia Plath. These are some writers who know how to fashion a perfect denouement. They artfully determined some of the most poetic conclusions for themselves. I have no desire to put my head in an oven or walk into a river with my pockets filled with stones but perhaps that’s what separates the creative from the dreamers. Driven by depression or self loathing or alcoholism, whatever it was, they are forever immortalised as true artists. How is our generation of trust fund babies, personal therapists and pop psychology supposed to compete with that?
I finished high school ten years ago and I still have my year 12 teacher’s voice resonating in my head – “It’s the journey, not the destination.” After six years of travelling the world, I’m still searching for a place to land. What would have happened to Robinson Crusoe if he hadn’t been found? Or Elizabeth if she hadn’t married Mr Darcy? Even Gatsby meets his great demise. Meanwhile, I have a stack of unfinished manuscripts doubling as a door stop with no end in sight. Every day is a journey and I don’t know if I will ever find my feet or have the denouement I think I deserve. For now, I take comfort in tucking in with a good book and getting lost in someone else’s narrative.
(*) This is a photo of my best friend (in real life) Vanessa. She’s reading ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ and travelling in an RV through America in a hopeful search for her own denouement.