See, here's the thing: I write angst.
I don't want to. It's not like I mean to. But it seems like, because I take my characters so seriously, they start to take themselves too seriously and I end up with these serious stories, filled with psychological issues and just general not-fun.
It just sort of happens, even when I mean to write something a little more lighthearted. I mean, for NaNo10 even, I wrote a zombie story. How can you take a zombie story too seriously? The entire point of a zombie story is to have fun with it or scare the crap out of people. It's a survivor story and because there is no society, you have no rules and so you can go on a rampage of awesome.
But I had to bring character angst into it and it became one of my darker things to date, I think, simply because of the protagonists' lack of morals. It has a relatively happy ending, but still...
Then comes my hedgehog story. I meant for it to be light-hearted, sort of like Princess Tutu, which manages to make me smile every single episode, even when it descends into the dark and heart-wrenching. There is something just so heartwarming about it and funny and cute and just plain sweet, that manages to make the darker moments all the more dark. The ending is happy, if a little bittersweet, but it manages to still feel light and cheerful despite it all.
However, my projected ending for the hedgehog story (at least as it stands) is not really happy. If anything, it's bittersweet, with emphasis on the "bitter". There is a potential for a happy ending later, but the actual last event shown on the page would be heartbreaking (y'know, if I actually succeed in the correct mood in my writing).
The problem is that I can't think of a way to make a happy ending feel like a cop-out. After all I'm going to put my characters through and the world I have established, the happy ending I want wouldn't fit. It would feel like a deus ex machina, or just simply a saccharine ending. It would feel like I was forcing a happy ending on it.
It drives me crazy when stories do this, putting us through so much and then at the last minute pulling the ridiculously happy ending. And while it feels good the first time you experience it, the second time it doesn't feel quite the same. It can feel like a let-down, sort of negating all the suffering that came before it. I'd rather have it end with hope; maybe everything isn't perfect, but there is a knowledge that the future will improve and be happy.
That's sort of what I'm shooting for with my hedgehog story, but at the same time, it just sort of makes me super-aware of how angsty my stories seem to be all the time.