Yesterday I was sitting at my computer pulling my hair out trying to finish the last paragraph of my rewrite on my middle grade novel. The problem was that I had to change the ending completely since I had altered the timeline. So the old ending just didn’t make sense. And endings are very important.
It needed to be just as punchy. Just as funny. And kinda brilliant. And thus…me sitting at my computer pulling my hair out.
Then I remembered something that my good friend Jay once told me: Don’t dance in public anymore.
He also told me another story that’s actually related to all of this. He said that he once read an article about the guy who wrote the movie Little Miss Sunshine. Apparently, while he was writing it, there was a scene that he couldn’t figure out how to resolve. Remember when they’re in the van and they get pulled over by the cop and then the cop lets them go because of something he finds in the back of the van? (I won’t say what he finds in the back of the van because it’s a little vulgar and this is a family operation here.)
Well, while he was writing it, he knew he needed the cop to let the family go, but he couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then a friend told him to write down everything that was in the van. Maybe the answer was already in there. So that’s what he did, and there…sitting in the back of the van…was his answer. Yes, vulgar, but oh so perfect!
I remembered this “What’s in your van?” story yesterday while rewriting my ending. I knew there had to be the perfect word, the perfect prop, and the perfect reason for it to end, you know…perfectly.
So I kept asking myself, “What’s in my van? What’s in my van?” (Only my story isn’t about a van, it’s about middle school, but it was still helpful.) And sure enough, when I kept digging around in the story a little more, the answer…and my ending…was already there.
So, what’s in your van?
Okay, just for kicks, let’s see what’s in my van literally. Hang on, I’m going out to my mini-van right now to see what’s in it. Okay, I’m back inside (it was cold out there!). Here’s what’s in my van:
Chapstick, coffee mug, pens, hand lotion, CD holder, stacks of papers from work, overdue library books, a stuffed shark, jacket, shoes, backpack, sand toys, a plastic dinosaur, a bag of new clothes from Kohl’s that I’ll sneak into the house later, sunglasses, oops--more overdue library books, a dog leash, some hardened raisins, and a half empty water bottle that Evie left in there on Sunday (thanks for gunking my van up, Eve!!)
Maybe I’ll call my movie Little Miss Packrat!