When it comes to writing, I've always been a pantser. (I have to say, though, "pantser" makes me think of those people who pull other people's pants down as a joke. But I don't actually do that. I've wanted to do that, though, particularly to the people who cut in front of me in line.) I like the idea of not knowing how the story's going to end, because then I get to be surprised.
It's made me think about what it would be like if we could write (or rewrite) our ending in our own lives, so to speak. What if we could actually go back in time and change unhappy/dissatisfying/annoying/weird endings to certain experiences? Would our lives be different as a result? Would we be different?
But there are some endings in my life that I wish I could rewrite. Here are a few examples:
In my happy ending, none of my students would bring their papers to my office and expect me to tell them exactly what to "fix" and what to write so that they'll get A's (FYI: that's exactly how they phrase it). They would come up with their own ideas and learn that writing is not about filling in the blanks.
The undergrads would actually want to spend more time reading novels by authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Ernest Hemingway instead of Facebook postings by their friends and Tweets by reality show stars who are famous for spending their parents' money or throwing tantrums in public.
My students would never blame me when they get bad grades. They'd never say it was because I wasn't a good teacher or because I graded them too harshly. They'd say stuff like, "Hey! I guess I really should go to class every day!" or "Wow, I never thought that sleeping in class would make me miss out on important information. I guess I shouldn't do that anymore!" or "I'm sorry that I told you that I know more about literature than you do. I was wrong. To make up for it, I'll clean out your office and do your grocery shopping for you!" or "Cell phones are the devil's toys! I will never use my cell phone ever again!"
All the guys who said they would call but never did finally would call. They'd say stuff like, "I'm sorry I thought I was hot enough to get a model. It turns out that I'm not. None of those Victoria's Secret girls ever called me back! Now I know how you felt when I didn't call you! Will you give me another chance?"
Then I would say, "NO! Kiss this, losers!" And then I'd hang up on them. And if this was a really happy ending, they'd go on dates with beautiful women who spend the whole time flirting with waiters and reciting long monologues about their lives without letting them get a word in, so that the guys really would know exactly how I felt when I dated them.
The guys I've met on online dating sites who pull disappearing acts would be effectively "punished" by being forced to read through all the creepy e-mails that guys have sent me, such as the guy who wrote, "I'll show you my naked pictures if you show me yours" (guess how quickly I blocked him). Then maybe they would stop acting like jerks and realize that they shouldn't get women's hopes up by pretending to be nice guys who are actually interested in them.
In my happy ending, I'd know just what to say to all the people who act condescendingly towards me because I don't make as much money as they do or haven't accomplished as much as they have. I'd say, "So what if you think you're better than me? You're the only person in the world who does!" Then I'd rip open my shirt, revealing my crime-fighting superhero costume, and I'd leave them in the dust as I flew away.
My department would make sure that all the graduate students have enough money to live on, so that I don't have to work a zillion low-paying, part-time jobs and have a lot less time to study than the students who are supported by loans or spouses with full-time jobs. Then when I go to stores, I wouldn't automatically start reshelving books or folding clothes before I think to myself, "Wait! I don't actually work here."
When I have to work yet another retail job, my employers would say, "You know what? The customer is not always right!" Then when (not if) customers are rude to me, I'd get to make them do my job for a week, so that by the end of the week they'll have pulled all of their hair out and I'll find them lying on the floor of the store, curled up in the fetal position.
In my happy ending, no one would nag or criticize me for being the way that I am, because they would think that being an obsessive, neurotic workaholic is cool.
What about you? If you could rewrite the ending to something that happened to you, would you? What does your happy ending look like?