Sparks have certainly been flying the last few weeks; the tiniest flicker of fire combined with gale-force winds and saltine-cracker dryness has resulted in several dancing flames in fields around the area. Unfortunately, snap, crackle and pop is not the sound farmers want to hear behind their combine; a season of nurturing and growing can quickly crumble to ashes, leaving farmers with more questions than answers.
Like the tumbling leaves, questions regarding the flammable fields swirl around the community. Why is it so dry? Why is it so windy? Why doesn’t it rain a little to settle the dust? Why is hard work and toil reduced to charred stubble in a matter of minutes? The answers are not known, like many answers to life puzzling questions. The only certain answer is that sparks, dry fields and gusty winds make for a dangerous, anxious-filled equation.
It is with confidence that I have to report a favorable forecast of “sparks” flying once again this week. But, don’t worry, I’m not foretelling of great field fires; even if I did know, I wouldn’t be putting that knowledge into print. No, the “sparks” will be igniting in the print world, or perhaps more accurately in bookstores around the world. For the last year, fans around the world have been waiting for the latest “spark,” and this week marks the newest release from Sparks, Nicholas Sparks that is.
I have been a Sparks fan for over 15 years. I am one of those fans who has read all the books, who has seen all the movies and who will order the new book on its release date. Sparks has written 18 novels, including The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle and many more. While all these novels present the “boy meets girl; boy falls in love with girl” story, it isn’t actually Sparks’ “love stories” that I have grown so fond of—it’s his endings.
As a student of writing, I have always detested happy endings; I don’t like knowing the ending of a book by the third page. For many love stories, if the boy sees the girl by the third page, a reader can be fairly confident there will be a couple in the end… oh, there will be the little tiff in the middle to add suspense, but then the characters will reunite and live happily ever after.
Ugh!Sparks doesn’t have that nauseating sweetness concluding his novels. Don’t get me wrong, his conclusions aren’t depressing or doom and gloom either—it’s just the right amount of reality mixed with glints of hope… or perhaps I should say little sparks of assurance for better days to come. And I believe that is an accurate portrayal of reality, days filled with sparks of goodness to keep moving on.
Although I’m an avid fan of Sparks, I do not aspire to be another Sparks; it’s not possible. There are hundreds of fans who want to be just like Sparks; I’m not among those hundreds. No, I’ll use the “sparks” of creativity that God has given me and blaze my own way. I’m no Sparks. I’m a Smidt.