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..

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Schrodinger’s Cat, or Review in the Box

When does quantum superposition end and reality collapse into one possibility or another? I stare at my mailbox and the email attachment, containing the dreaded Kirkus review of my book, Dark Shaman Awakening. Instead of a theoretical cat, my author ego is the one trapped in the rigged box. The possibility of decaying radioactive material is the possibility of pointed searing words of the reviewer, which can trigger the stab of the poisoned ink pen into my author ego. Praise on the other hand would leave the author ego alive and elated.

Copenhagen interpretation: An observation must take place for superposition to end. I would have to open the attachment and consciously observe and read the review to know if the author ego was stabbed. Without my observation the author ego state is both dead and alive.

Many-worlds interpretation and consistent histories: The observer becomes entangled with the two possible states separating into two realities. When I open the review box, one version of me will observe a stabbed author ego, while the other will see an intact author ego. Decoherence means that there is no interaction between these two versions of me, maintaining in each reality a consistent history.

Relational interpretation: Depending on whose viewpoint one takes, the point at which superposition ends varies. The fragile author ego in the review box knows the outcome before the observer outside the review box sees it.

Objective collapse theories: An objective threshold can force the superposition to collapse independently. Time has already determined the outcome. The review has been written, the author ego is already affected one way or the other. The observation of this by opening the review is merely an after the fact affirmation of the state of the ego within the review box.

“Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation.” Einstein

Is the cat alive or dead? http://www.nhfennecus.com/reviews/

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.

I received a copy of Dark Shaman Awakening. It’s real, was my first thought. Lynx and Laurel Raven’s adventures and battle against the Dark Shaman have begun. My own adventure as a writer has come full circle, book 1 is done, but book 2 has just begun.

It got me thinking about reading a good adventure and that conflicted feeling I get as a reader. On the one hand I can’t wait for the story to move forward to find out what happens, yet at the same time there’s that nagging thought in the back of my head that once I reach the end, the adventure will be over. At times I find myself so vested in the story that when I look up from the written words I’m surprised that the vivid imagery playing in my head goes blank. I greedily pick up the trail again scanning the next words so that the imagery of the story can resume. It’s the same when I write, I’m living the story. I suppose in a way it is time travel. My mind is experiencing a different time and reality.

I hope the adventures of Lynx and Laurel Raven as they navigate in strange new worlds facing dangers and challenges makes you a time traveler. Nodyynia and the Guardians’ world are calling, stay a while.

N.H. Fennecus