I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Drawn To The End



Now, here's a little test. Does this photo make you curious about what's at the end of the path? To the point where you would happily go off to find out? And what if you've just been tramping for five hours and hated every minute of it. Would you still want to get to the end? If the answer is yes, then welcome to the club! I am also one of those people who always have to know how things turn out, regardless of whether the actual process of getting the answer is a terrible chore. A job started is a job finished. If your answer is no, then I need you to enlighten me. Maybe you need to save me from a terrible affliction!

Let's take the path scenario and apply it to something else. I really do envy those people who can stop reading a terrible book after just one or two chapters, or who can get up and walk out of a bad film after just 20 minutes. I have never been able to do this because of this obsession to get to the end of things. I wonder how many others share this strange desire for punishment. We are those poor souls who hang on in there until we see "The End", when everyone else has long gone and switched off the lights. Yes, we always persist, no matter how painful the experience.

I have friends who can toss aside a book that doesn't appeal to them after just a dozen pages. They don't care about the money they've spent. They have absolutely no qualms. They simply refuse to digest something they don't like. They can also get up and leave the cinema after just ten minutes, quickly making up their minds about whether a film is good or bad. They don't care about the cost. They don't care about the possibility that things might very well have been on the verge of improving. They say that if an author/producer doesn't engage the audience quickly enough, they don't deserve to get people's attention.

Maybe people like me stay engaged because we have this relentless hope that things really might get better, just around the corner, despite the false start. Maybe we believe that something can only really be judged in its entirety. Maybe it's about giving people a chance, believing that there is something good in everything, no matter how small that good is. I will often dislike a book during the early chapters but then find myself loving it by the end. Is it true that if we patiently endure cloudy spells we'll be rewarded with brilliant sunshine? Or is it really just a quirky need to finish things, the product of conditioning?

This reminds me of a story I covered for the radio when I lived in England. The organiser of classical concerts in a small city imposed a ban on a reviewer from the local paper. The crime? The reviewer had published a negative review of a concert, even though he'd only stayed for the first 10 minutes. The concert organiser argued that a proper critic stays and watches an entire show before reaching his or her conclusions. The reviewer and the paper's editor defended themselves, saying 10 minutes is often all that's needed to decide whether something is good or bad. Suffice to say that this story provoked great debate up and down the country.

So, now I'm going to go back to that bad read. I'm struggling. I'm not engaged. (No, it's not the book currently posted in my sidebar). I'll be relieved when I get to the end! But then, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.


Nothingman said...

Looking for the end is different in terms of books and rest of the world. IN a book you can always go back and read it after a few years, it makes more sense sometimes. As for concerts and movies, they are gone if not observed at the time...i can digest a bad book, but it will take a really bad movie to make me get up and leave.

and ofcourse i'd go to the end of the path, just for fuck's sake ;)



P.S- there is a < center > tag in your title bar, i think its not working as it should be.

Lane said...

I envy your staying power. I'm the opposite I'm afraid to say, with books in particular. If it doesn't grab me I move on, though I do try to give it a fair go. There are just too many books waiting to be read.

Your theatre critic story reminded me of a article in the press not long ago where someone had asked why all the most expensive seats are empty after the first act. Of course they were the critics seats!

And the path? Well I would but those trees do look a little scary:-)

I hope the book rewards your perseverance

Shameless said...

Nothingman - Yes, books are probably a category on their own ... my shelf is chaotic as it is though, let alone adding unfinished books into the mix. :-) Thanks for the note re "center" but I don't see it on my computer. Everything looks fine my end. Does anyone else see "center" in the title?

Lane - I want to be like you but I think it's too late in life now to change this little quirk. And I love the bit about the theatre seats being empty after the first half. I wonder how many of the critics tell their readers they are only giving their opinions of the first half! And yes, those trees do look a little scary. I took that photo somewhere along the Gold Coast of Australia, walking to an amazing beach! I think it was at a place called Noosa on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm stuck with a related bug. I did (years ago) manage to walk out of Wayne's World after fifteen minutes, and a few nights ago I switched off Pirates of the Caribbean after just twenty minutes. But when it comes to books, I'm too weak. I read them, cover to cover, including all the crap in there that has nothing to do with the story.

Shameless said...

Wayne - Whew! So I'm not alone. Now, how can we harden ourselves? Or do we need to? lol

puresunshine said...

I agree with nothingman. Many a times I have left a book after a start, knowing that i can come back to it later. I have started onto something else. But yes, the unfinished book keeps bugging me in my head. staring at me from the table till i finally take time out to read it. I start. stop. start. stop but finally get down to business. Movies-i have never walked out of film. I stay back for the popcorn! greedy!

Sarah Hina said...

Here's hoping the book gets better, Seamus! :) And I love this photograph. I would follow the path to the end, just because it's so lovely.

With books, it depends. If I already love the author, and have faith in him, I will persevere. If it is an unknown author, and I've run out of steam after 50 pages, I'll probably grow too impatient.

I like your fervent optimism, though. I think it says something good about your faith in people. :)

Marja said...

I love your attitude and am in many things the same especially with people. I know all have a good side somewhere. When seeing a movy (at home, don't go to the movies often) or when reading a book I am quick to throw it away if it is boring. Because my brain processes things slowly (reading and writing) I have to be selective.

Shameless said...

Puresunshine - It sounds like you have the same symptoms as me! The book can be put aside but not forgotten! And the popcorn? Hell yes! lol

Sarah - I'm glad you like the photo. I find it mysterious and inviting, if not a little spooky! Re the books ... it's interesting what you say about authors you already know. It's like a better bet in some way.

Marja - Yes, I am also someone who likes to pick out something good in everything in life, even when it all looks bad. :-)

apprentice said...

I do a bit off both IThink. When I was younger I was like you, see eveything out and waste nothing. It is probably some ingrained Calvinist ethic.

On the walk, we have one just like it here, along a former railway line. It's not one of my fav walks as there is no view. But the birdsong and wild strawberries and brambles do offer some compensations.

On books I agree with other, you can return to them, and sometimes age will improve them or you, but rarely. I read very fast, and if I find I'm not that's usually a pretty good sign that I'm not grabbed. I think DVD and able has made films much more disposable/avaialbale. But I would be annoyed if I'd made the effort to have the filmhouse experience and a film disappointed.

Perhaps we are quicker to toss in our chips theses days by viryie of the sheer weight of stuff around us.

apprentice said...

PS, the music on your Venice slideshow is very beautiful and haunting. You should get it in i-tunes - I'd buy it.

You're amazingly talented in so many disciplines mister!

Shameless said...

Apprentice - Thank you for your kind words re the piano music. It is a piece that doesn't have a name yet; I am waiting for inspiration. :-) And wow, wild strawberries on your walk! . :-)

Anonymous said...

I am with you, good Shameless, ever hopeful that the book will suddenly finds it way, that film will suddenly get some passion and direction. Rarely does it happen but I do like to give things their due -- if I read page one, I owe it to the words to make it to the end.

However, only recently, as my age increases, I find the lists of books to read, films to see also increases. I have been more apt to put down a book after 100 pages or stop watching a film midway through (only on DVD, never at the theatre). But it is a rare occurance, mind you.

I hope your bad book gets its legs and surprisingly, thrills you.

The Quoibler said...


This really made me think...

I definitely don't stick with everything I start, whether books or movies. If they bore me once, okay... but piss me off twice, and I'm outta there.

However, I'm not like that (typically) with relationships. I tend to look for the good in people and hang on (perhaps too long in some cases.)

As for the photo, I couldn't resist taking just a peek around the corner! :)


Kat said...

I will always stay to the end of movies or concerts-hoping the whole time that things will get better. Books have 100 pages to engage me. I'm afraid I'm a harsh critic when it comes to writing.

Jon M said...

I never deliberately dump a book, I just 'fall out of love' with it and stop seeing it as regularly. Then another book comes along who's exciting and new...
I'm such a tart!

Church Lady said...

I also envy your staying power.
I tend to hang in for as long as I can if someone else told me they liked it. I want to know what they liked.
But if it's just me, I'll walk out of the movie or give away the book.

Now in this case, I am unable to see the photo. Does it have any nudity? I'm in Dubai, and there are filters for the internet (sucks) I will spend endless amount of time trying to satiate my curiousity. Which means you'll be seeing a hundred or so clicks from me in the next day or two.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Isn't it the French who say life is too short to argue about poor food and wine? :-) Life is equally too short to carry on reading a book that doesn't engage you - there are so many others out there to be read and so little time in which to read all of them - so, my view is, if a book isn't working for you - move on. I used to, in the past, like you, labour to the bitter end. No more. But perhaps this is something that comes with age :-)

Shameless said...

Witnessing Am I - Snap! And the age thing? Maybe that's why I'm bringing this up; I'm also getting older and my lists of things to see and read are getting longer! :-)

Quoibler - LOL! I'm glad there's a difference between the books and the people! :-) And yes, the beach at the end was MAGIC, with koalas to see on the way! :-)

Kat - I like that: 100 pages to engage me. That would be a good title for a book on writing!

Jon - What a great way to put it! lol

Church Lady - Oh, this is very intriguing! Why would that photo not download? Too many Dubai locals would want to pack their bags and go off to see what's at the end of the path? :-)

Shameless said...

Absolute Vanilla - Yes, you and the others are so right. And it probably is my age that makes me bring all this up. I feel I have less time to make concessions. However, changing this leopard's spots won't be easy! :-)

Julie said...

Hardly ever buy books I don't enjoy reading to the end - but prefer nf, which is easier to sample, I guess...

Eric Valentine said...

I can appreciate the 'age' feeling Seamus, for me there are never enough hours in a day. I like that picture though I like a grove, I like to smell the air and yes I would walk the path, just for the hell of it. :)

BTW, I too have an unfinished book ~ Just lost interest. ;)

Shameless said...

Julie - Yes, I do try to be prudent when I'm choosing. I have a good look through various chapters, check out the rough storylines and ask around a bit. But sometimes I buy on a whim, stuck in airport lounges or I go silly with a bonus! lol

Eric - I would need 80 hours in a day to get through everything my heart desires! I'm glad you liked the pic ... Australian scenery can be so inviting. :-)

Church Lady said...

Oooo!! NOW I see it!!
I would SOO go down this path and keep going. I love the woods.

Art Durkee said...

Alternatively, this is simply a lovely photo of a bend in the path suddenly stumbled upon while one was tramping directly through the woods on a voyage perpindicular to this path. Perhaps it is a crossroads rather than a destination. Perhaps it is a place one seeks to be still in. Perhaps it is neither a goal nor a destination, but a waystation along the Way.

Art Durkee said...

I miss out on a lot of books and films, I suppose, because I am engaged with other books and films. I no longer feel like life is long enough to fit them ALL in, so I have become terribly selective about what I will spend my time and money on. The last movie I went to see in the theatre was "Stardust," and I went knowing I would like it, and was not disappointed. Honestly, most movies I watch now on DVD rather than in the theatre; some movies I go to with no expectations whatsoever, just because I have no other plans that afternoon, and it might be fun.

I pick up and read the first few pages, and sometimes the ending of a book, before I ever buy it. Libraries are awesome. Most bookstores let you browse before buying anyway.

I almost never take the word of a reviewer or critic telling me I'll like this book, or that movie. I almost never buy a book on speculation, unless it's by an author I'm familiar with and like. I tend to make up my own mind at all times. Sometimes a friend recommends something, or a reviewer's comments intrigue me. But I lived so long on a fixed income that I got choosy, and I still am. Again, the library is awesome.

I buy a lot of my books at thrift stores like Goodwill. The fun there is in finding something amazing for almost no money; always a pleasant surprise.

Because I'm not invested until I'm invested, if that makes sense, I rarely feel the need to see it through to the bitter end. Life's too short to go looking for more unpleasantness, when so much is readily available already.

Shameless said...

Church Lady - I remember this path very well. It was heavenly! :-)

Art - Yes, the options are endless (excuse the pun). I like the possibility that this path was found by someone lost for days in deep forest! But alas, this really was a path we took on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, and it was mysterious and healing! The koalas and the gum trees just did something to me! :-) Re the books, films - good attitude. I also try to pre-read before buying, but will often get sucked in by a cover and the opening lines, only to find it's not what I expected. I wouldn't read the ending beforehand though! lol Yes, with age, I NEED to be more selective. Try telling the stubborn side of my brain, though!

colleen said...

I once watched a bad movie on fast forward just to find out how it ended without having to watch every detail. I think Bill Murray was in it.

Shameless said...

Colleen - Hahaha. Yes, I do skip pages in books too, when it's 10 pages of minute detail about stuffing a chicken, for example, or putting up a shelf! :-)

Cailleach said...

I'm a quick reader and a skipper if needs be. But I almost always find something to redeem a book. Almost.

That path reminds me of a similar photo I have of a hump-back bridge over a river in a forest. There's a man holding a child's hand and they're walking away from the camera.The path goes around to the right and it begins to split into two after the bridge. The road not taken sort of thing.

chiefbiscuit said...

I tend to abandon a book if it doesn'
t 'deliver' (as far as my tastes go anyway) by about page 70. But I would tend to remain with a film until the end.
Interesting post!

Shameless said...

Cailleach - Oh, yes, skipping. That seems to be my only power over books, which I use with abandon when need be! :-) And yes, photos like that tend to talk to us, no?

CB - It's interesting that quite a few people quit books but hang on in there with bad films. The fuss of leaving the cinema? Having the spotlight go on us?

leslie said...

I would be off the path in a minute, and playing in the woods.
But I will stay the length of a movie, and read an entire book, just for curiosity sake.

Shameless said...

Leslie - Hello and welcome. Yes, there's something exciting about breaking off from a given path! :-)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Ah Seamus,

I'm sorry I cannot enlighten you, for I am a curve follower too.

I am optimistic. I believe in possibility.

What if...?

And so I always stay till the end.

Great photo, good question.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

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