How Do Stories End?

How Barbara Kingsolver makes literature topical — from climate change to opioids — we’ve written this blog on how writers make literature topical. And in case you missed it or you might be interested in how a piece of writing is made topical, here’s the second installment from Barbara Kingsolver.

I hope people take one piece of writing as an inspiration for their work, whether the inspiration is that a piece of writing is timely and topical or whatever. Whatever their inspiration is, I hope people find it helpful in shaping and writing their work.

And I think I’ve found a unique way to be topical and timely. If I do it well — which I hope I do — I’m going to be able to do it well enough to make it topical.

That’s my hope.

This piece is an essay I wrote called “The Last Best Story,” published in the September 2013 issue of The New Yorker. It’s about the nature of storytelling. And I think, in part, what it’s about is the subject of storytelling, whether it’s a story or a novel or a short story.

And it’s about the question, how do stories end?

It’s a story about a particular experience I’ve had. One day I was sitting on the sofa with my husband, my four-year-old daughter sitting on my lap. And I was looking at the ocean and thinking about my daughter, and I was watching the rain coming down and thinking about how to start a book that I hadn’t started. Just a story. But I couldn’t find the words.

I wasn’t sure what it was I wanted to write.

The piece was, in part, just a way in which I could think about how I was feeling.

I started working on it around four in the afternoon. It was late when I was writing it the next morning, and I thought, Well, I don’t know what I want to write now. So I went upstairs and I wrote about feeling in those first few hours a certain sense of anxiety. And it seemed to be in the first

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