If You Could Only Write One More Story…
It’s said there are three rules to writing a novel.
Unfortunately though, it seems that no one knows what they are.
I like to imagine that they have something to do with a fully stocked bar and perhaps access to a certified, yet pleasantly abstract and rebellious barista (‘cause I mean fudge those mundane baristas, am I right?)
But actually, who knows?
In all honesty a solid 90% of writers are… impaired… a solid 90% of the time, so it’s not like we’ve put a whole lot of thought into this.
Settle down, I jest.
But the other 10% you ask?
Well, we… we don't like to talk about them.
But enough on our concerning futures.
I bring this up because I had a thought recently (and don’t you dare touch that one…).
I asked myself if I had one last story in me before the apocalypse (and boy-oh-boy she’s a ‘comin folks), what would that story be?
*Wheezy maniacal laughter*
*Motions sickly to underground bunker*
The more I think about this though, and the more I begin to regret having this underground ‘investment,’ I came to see it was in fact quite an interesting area of discussion.
Is our last story our best one?
Is our last story our most important one?
I suppose the offhand answer is a simple no. I mean, perhaps it really is your best work, there’s obviously always that chance, but besides this poetic notion we regrettably advanced sapiens attach to endings, what makes your final story deserve any more credit than the ones to come before it?
Is a last story more fulfilling perhaps?
Will it make you bacon?
Depending on which one of those you answered yes to, you may need to cut back on the psychedelics. Unless of course, naturally as a writer, you interpreted that metaphorically.
In which case it’s equally as useless.
‘Cause you’re dead. Sorry.
But then again, I suppose there is in fact an argument to be made that, if for some twisted reason you’re aware of the fact you’re to die after you finish, that it’s perhaps more fulfilling in the sense it’s a more emotional piece, or you’ve mustered some lost courage, or you can finally act as crazy as you feel, whatever.
Maybe it’s freeing then?
But the ironic thing with writers is that (for some) we’ve a touch and go relationship with emotion in general. I find that a lot of us can be on both ends of the spectrum within simple seconds of each other.
We’re like sharks.
Slow, pleasantly plump, resentful sharks.
And if sharks swam in a sea with a much higher proof level.
And… didn't really move much.
Ok, so maybe not so much sharks as much as… Winnie the Poohs…
Go ahead and laugh, but there’s worse things to be.
But is that then to say that a ‘final’ story does bring about some sense of emotion, or maybe lack thereof, that sets it apart?
Hopefully most of us have no idea what our last story is to be, and so for that majority, I suppose the point is redundant.
But all the same I can’t help but look at Hemingway. It’s sometimes assumed his suicide is in part because he realized he could no longer write the way he once did. Which is a terrible thing indeed, and his story is certainly a sad one. But does that ‘knowing’ somehow mean that his final work is more important? Or special? Revered?
I don’t know.
If you haven't guessed by now, I in fact don't know a whole lot, including but certainly not limited to, wherever the hell this post is going. I’m just smashing my forehead against the keyboard and hoping for the best. My brain is what many scientists would call ‘empty.’ Probably because of this whole keyboard / forehead thing.
Anyway, it gets better.
Now that the room’s no longer spinning so violently, I see the most interesting aspect of this question, really the whole thought-provoking thesis of whatever this post has become.
The apogee. The apex. The pinnacle! (See mother? I’m smart.)
What would you, or I, choose as a last story? If you don't write, maybe then ask yourself what would your last read be?
Now, that’s a hella lot of pressure, isn't it?
So embrace the hypothetical my sad little hermit friends, and really think about it.
If you had one last chance to enjoy any story of your choice, read or yet to read, understandable or foreign, common or lost, what would it be?
I think the choice would say a lot about who you are, and what you’ve lived.
And sorry about the whole hermit thing, you’re good people. No, still not you, Albert.
But truly, what could say more about a person than their final choice of story?
Very little in my mind.
Perhaps I’ve finally found the one icebreaker we can’t shrug off so easily.
So just watch out for the dude that said American Psycho.
Something about tipping cows… (see reference to bizarrely concerning answer here)
Kidding. Being the traditional and frankly cliche fantasy fan I am, The Lord of The Rings jumps instantly to the forefront of my mind, though I hesitate answering a question like this so quickly. They are master pieces (I will literally duel anyone who says otherwise), and also represent this awesome time of my life, and are essentially the one series for me that in fact matures with age, but all the same I believe this question deserves at least a moment’s thought.
I also thought briefly about the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss because I wholeheartedly loved every moment of those too, but they’re out only because they’ve yet to be finished. Should the third book end up half as good as either of the first two though, it’d be a serious contender for my top spot.
Something about that story just syncs with me.
What about something more abstract?
Any book in the world, right?
Even the ‘lost’ ones.
*Begins inexplicably dancing*
The Margites is a book of Homer’s that was evidently written before The Iliad. Probably less captivating than the Lord of The Rings (in my humble opinion, though again, I will fight you), but the idea’s temping all the same right? Or what about the lost bibles? Both those forgotten and those cut from the Church for their enigmatic and dangerous teachings / predictions? (I suddenly find myself thinking of The Da Vinci Code and wanting to explore some random catacombs. To Rome!) From a historical and simply humanly curious point of view, wouldn't that be interesting?
There are thousands of other famous old texts too, some perplexingly ahead of their time, others purposefully sought out and destroyed, and even some completely untranslatable in languages we can’t even name (see here).
And here’s another thought. We likely wouldn't enjoy these kinds of stories as much as those we hold dear, but is there not this kind of ‘aura’ that makes it all the more compelling, simply because it was lost or destroyed? Is this similar to that sense that follows an author’s final work?
I don't know, and I’m about to flatline here, so let me pass this torch on to you.
What do you think?
What would your last story be?
Hell, after answering that you may even learn something about yourself.
So you’re welcome.
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