What if stories died like people?

What if stories didn’t end neatly tied up with a bright bow, or a poignant lesson? What if stories were like people with messy, unresolved ends?

Maybe the story suffers dementia and loses coherence to the point of becoming incomprehensible:

Gunnar strode into the empty coffee shop tablet in hand. He ordered an espresso and sat down by the window table overlooking the patio. The metal chairs outside glistened with remnants of rain. Gunnar set the tablet down, first brushing off the pastry crumbs onto the sticky floor. He hated espresso, a tiny dose of bitterness. His hand jerked out and knocked the black liquid onto the tablet where the blackness pooled into a corner.

He looked up at the counter, catching a glimpse of the barista’s shirt through the mass of bodies lining up for their flu vaccines. She was missing a button. The remaining bottle cap buttons sparkled catching the overhead spotlights like a strobe light. The clock on the wall watched, the movement of hands marking time, tick-tock, tick-tock , tick-tock.  The crocodile ambled through the patio puddles its tail knocking over the chairs. Peter Pan swatted at the annoying fairy buzzing at him like an Amazon drone.

“Take the damn package already!” The drone blared as more dogs rained down.

There were a few cats in the mix yowling as they landed on all fours. Dogs of all kinds splattered across the patio tables. The window shattered struck by a beagle projectile. Coffee and wet dog aromas swept in. The crocodile opened its jaws, lunging at a cat. The rabbit bounded out and checked its pocket watch, tick-tock.

Perhaps the story suffers a terminal illness, floating in and out of consciousness and ends in pain killer induced apathy:

Detective Poppy leaned over the body. Her gloved hands searched the tweed jacket pockets. Who has empty pockets — not even a ball of lint? Her own pockets would yield a treas…

The murder weapon was found in a nearby alley, wedged in the grate of a storm drain. It wa…

She had returned to the crime scene. Something was bothering her about the murder, and she always thought better at the site of the deed. Poppy shouldn’t have come alone, not without her revolver. She backed herself against the wall thinking about the dinner she had left cooking in the oven. The barrel flashed. She slumped ove…

Such a waste, the pot roast was sure to get charre…

The story could stop in mid-sentence, an unexpected end, like a bus ran over it:

This was it, the final clue! All that time spent on research to come to this point, the missed birthdays, the walks on the beach not taken, the career thrown away, it was validation of the effort. There would be retribution. The object in her trembling hand puls..

Angsting: verb – nail-chewing, hair-pulling throes of anxiety

I propose this as a new dictionary entry in the interest of being authentic about what it feels like. Angst as a noun, a passive state of being, doesn’t do justice. I attended the Muse and the Marketplace conference for writers, this weekend in Boston. The most important lesson I learned was to stop angsting.
I usually work my way slowly into the cold spring waters of the lake, first the toes, ankles, knees and eventually with a final deep breath of courage I push off to swim. I’m an introvert, but so what, many writers are. Angsting over how to enter the scary world of social media is a waste of time. Energized by the conference, I will walk resolutely into the water and with an icy splash I will plunge in.
I had an idea to take pictures of a plush toy fennec fox (Fennecus zerda) reading my book, Dark Shaman Awakening, in locations that are scenic, related to the story, or inspire me. The ‘Reading Fennecus’ would, like any of us, get bored with just one book, so I will include other books in the pictorial reading log. I spent weeks, angsting about the merits of this idea. At the conference many of the presenters pointed out the obvious; don’t expect everyone to like and get what you’re doing, those who don’t will move on and those who do will stay and appreciate your work.
If you think this is a fun idea, please follow ‘Reading Fennecus’ on http://instagram.com/nhfennecus
I welcome comments and ideas for books that ‘Reading Fennecus’ should be pictured perusing.

If a blog falls and no one hears it

Did it make a noise? Without a thud or a reverberation, a comment or a like, does a story exist? Telling stories implies there is an audience, a readership, those who listen and share the experience. Without readers, stories are just monologues, cathartic to the writer, but are they stories?

Readers are vital to storytelling. What if no one reads my book? What follows is more gut wrenching. What if someone reads it and the story doesn’t resonate? Indifference might just be worse than someone hating the story. At least if they hate it, something in the story made them react.

If a story falls and there is no one upon whom it makes an impact, it crashes in piercing silence onto a needle carpet littered with a forest of dead stories and blogs.