This Conundrum is about a work of writing. The picture is of a book.

Riddle: What work of writing can one never finish?

Answer:

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Explanation:

Eyezak the Riddle Robot asked us another Conundrum about a work of writing you can never complete. This one is a bit tricky because most people start off thinking about things they read, since as Humans, we tend to read works of writing. This whole path of thought is actually wrong. His quandary is about writing, not about reading, and once you get over that hump, the options become clear. Let’s explore the answer to this Conundrum.

First we should list off works of writing. Then we should identify which ones most people, if any, can never complete. Here is the list we are going to analyze:

  • poems
  • short stories
  • novels
  • autobiographies

Poems

It has been said that Poems are one of the most artistic forms of expression known to man. This unique style of writing makes use of the rhyming and aesthetic qualities of words to create a masterpiece. Typically poetry has one purpose, to evoke meaning and feeling in the reader, while maintaining a certain level of rhythm and beauty. The intent is to flow while telling a story and connecting with the reader.

Poetry is enjoyed by many readers around the world, and for some it is actually their job to read and understand it. Very frequently, a reader completes the task of reading a poem, and evoking the emotion that it’s author intended (though sometimes other emotions). In this case, the act of reading this type of “work of writing” would break at least one requirement of the Conundrum.

Many poems have been published around the world, from many cultures, and in many forms. Some have also gone unpublished, either because of writer death or lack of funding or even simple laziness. But the fact remains that SOME of them are considered finished, at least, and that the many tend to get published in their completed form. If our Conundrum is specifically about writing this “work of writing” then poems break a rule of the Conundrum.

This Conundrum requires that no person can ever complete this work of writing. This is simply not true for the task of writing a poem. As we have shown, most poems that are read, are finished by the reader. Additionally, many poems that are written are considered finished. These two facts being considered logically debunks that all poems can never be completed, thus Poems or Poetry cannot be the answer Riddle Robot Eyezak is looking for.

Check out these titles when you get a chance:

  • The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
  • O Captain! My Captain!- Walt Whitman
  • The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe

Short Stories

Could our Conundrum be solved by a short story? They are usually short enough in length, that they can be consumed in a single sitting. Typically they are a creative expression of a single incident, or a small series of them, and typically have a goal to evoke a single mood.

Since a defining characteristic of a short story is that it can be completely read in one sitting, it is unlikely that Riddle Robot Eyezak actually expects it as the answer to our Conundrum. It stands to reason that if short stories are specifically designed to be short enough to complete, most people would continue reading them until they are finished. That rules this one out, for reading at least. What about writing?

Riddle Robot Eyezak might be indicating that our Conundrum is talking about writing a “work of writing” instead of reading one. Merely based on the fact that people often read short stories, and that they exist out there in collections of short stories that people regularly purchase and read, we can assume that often times writers complete them. That rules out writing short stories too.

Since many people read short stories, and since there are plenty of short stories out there to read, we can safely say that short stories will not answer the Riddle Robot Eyezak’s Conundrum. We should continue looking for a type of writing that one cannot complete!

Check out these works when you can:

  • The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry
  • Hills Like White Elephants – Ernest Hemingway

Novels

Usually, novels are much longer than short stories, usually fiction, and is typically published in its own book. Typically it is a long fictional tale about a series of events, some related and some not, that are typical of normal Human experience at the time of writing, but not in a verifiably true account of actual events.

Some readers, especially those with short attention spans, find it hard to complete novels, but not impossible. Readers complete novels from front to back every day, making it a possible venture, if a reader gives the task enough time and dedication. Because of this we can safely assume that the reading part of a novel is not going to answer our Conundrum, since some people actually do it on a regular basis.

Also, logically, since there are novels to read, and people read them often, it stands to reason that there are at least some completed novels out there which writers have finished writing. This same method of logic seems to be following all of the types of writing we have mentioned so far. Since people regularly read them, without complaining, there must be some completed ones out there.

Because of that, we can say that Riddle Robot Eyezak will not accept this as the answer to our Conundrum. Perhaps our last type of “work of writing” will be the right one to answer the Conundrum for Riddle Robot Eyezak!

Check out these classic novels:

  • The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes

Autobiographies

Our Conundrum is answered by the word autobiography. This image is a banner about how to start writing one!

Autobiographies are a little different than the other “works of writing” we have talked about above, in that they are typically non-fiction. They are the personally written account of an author’s life, from their perspective. The most distinguishing quality that delineates a biography from an autobiography, is that autobiographies are written about ourselves, while biographies are written about other people.

You do see autobiographies out there for reading consumption. Despite that, typically one of two things are true about them:

  • they are the stories of the life of a person who is still alive
  • they are not finished, or at least not by the person who started them

This is boding well for it being the answer to our Conundrum. In either of the above cases, the book would not be complete right? If it were the first one, then the person’s life is not yet over, which means that the book is missing valuable content. In the second case, the book was defined as not completed, or at least by the original author.

As for writing, there is a bit of a paradox here. You cannot write a complete account of your life, without including a complete account of your death. On the flip side of the coin, you cannot write about your death, or at least a complete account of it, if you die, because when you are dead, you cannot write. Therefore, logically, it is impossible to complete the writing of your own autobiography! BINGO!

One Last Thing:

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