1/23/2011

New Story. Maybe.

This story came out of me a few months ago. 






I was planning on putting it in my upcoming short story book, FLASHLIGHTS IN THE BASEMENT, but I'm unsure what to think of it. It's not a very nice story. I worry that I'm a huge prick for writing it. I worry that it's ignorant and/or cruel toward people who've ever attempted suicide. Will you tell me what you think and not judge me too harshly if my worries are confirmed?

Your friend,

Isaac

16 comments:

  1. It does seem harsh, but perhaps not unreasonably so.

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  2. I don't think it's cruel to anyone whose life has been touched by suicide because they've contemplated/attempted it, or because they're the friend/loved one of someone who did it. It is a good thing to be compassionate but you cannot let it dictate how you express yourself creatively. Besides, it's not like you're glorifying pedophiles or terrorists.

    That being said, I think the story is only about suicide in a peripheral way anyway. To me it was more about the universal desire of happiness and how, in the face of increased neglect and abuse, "happy" becomes relative.

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  3. Insensitivity isn't its problem. It comes across as preachy... you know, "There are people starving in Africa". But the idea is basically sound. One of the things that I like about your writing, if this makes any sense, is its hollowness. I guess that sounds like an insult. I mean that it doesn't require a core belief or concept to be constructed around. It's just... good writing. Most people can't manage that while keeping a story under control.

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  4. Interesting. I wouldn't consider it preachy but I do agree that it's just... good writing.

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  5. First off, sorry about your girlfriend. That sucks.

    Now about your story. As someone who had contemplated suicide nearly her whole life (up until a few years ago), I did not find this offensive at all. Nor did I find it to be preachy. In fact, I found it to be quite insightful and interesting. The concept that life really can get worse may not seem that helpful when you're contemplating suicide, but I truly believe it could be. In that moment and during that time I was a little bit selfish in not wanting to stick around for those I loved (at least I think I was). I was so focused on me and how I felt; I never considered the concept of "how good I had it". I did have some hardships during that time too, but it could have been worse...and this was a poignant reminder of that.

    I also thought this was an interesting take on reincarnation. The concept that suicide makes each life worse and worse makes a lot of sense.

    The fact that escaping was also her only reaction to anything was also intriguing. She only tried to change her circumstances when she was unable to handle them anymore. She never stood up for herself when it was necessary.

    I think you should include it. I liked it a lot, but I'm not an authority on these things...and this comment is way longer than I intended it to be. Sorry.

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  6. In the picture you use as the story's title card, the nightstand looks like it has this little, well-meaning smile. It's like it's saying, "I know this story is really sad, but it's all gonna work out! Reading is for winners!"

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  7. I thought a very similar thing James..funny :)

    As for the story, I can see how you might think it is preachy but considering that no one has any idea about what happens after we die or if how we die has any effect on that unknowable after world...I think it is just as valid as any other story about death. However, I don't think that human suffering is quantifiable or comparable. What is tolerable to one may be agony for another and I believe that as individuals, we should have total control over our lives, including how and when they end.
    If someone is in so much pain as to take their own life then it is no one else's place to tell them that their suffering is not bad enough to do so. I don't think that the decision to end your life comes lightly to anyone. On another note, that story was quite possibly the most terrifying thing I have ever read. As the other commenters said, your writing is superb.

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  8. This could potentially be brilliant, don't show restraint when your creative process targets a "touchy" subject. Trust your ability. I'm sure you will keep it classy.

    Sorry about the relationship complications, sometimes the best writing comes from the toughest places. And that writing can in turn be the outside perspective that you need to move forward.

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  9. I'm no authority on suicidal fantasies, but it seems like this could be thought provoking enough to give someone doubts about taking that route.

    I think the very ending was the only part that felt preachy (where you state that she hopes to eventually find happiness by running away again and again). Perhaps the story is a little bit moralizing, but in a way that no one else has done it before (at least no one that I've read).

    I think post-modernism, or whatever post-post-modern era we're in now, encourages us to keep messages and morals out of our created works, but art without meaning seems pointless to me, and I don't see anything wrong with readers gleaning a "lesson" from this or any other story you write. I say include it!

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  10. Maybe it's not nice, but it's good.

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  11. Tamalama Bing-Bong K'Chup Said

    I didn't think this was preachy, but think this makes a good point! If you run away from a bad situation (or take the easy rote) who said its going to get easier. The whole concept on reincarnation is quite good, because I do believe you got to make you own happiness to be happy, which then might make a future life more easier (well, i'm hoping so).

    So as Coco Pox Said " Maybe it's not nice, but it's good." Some people should know, that doing a selfish deed, may not lead to a happier ending..

    Thanks for Warm Bodies!!! It was Awesome, could not put it down, and I HATE zombies!! :P

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  12. Tamalama Bing-Bong K-Chup said

    Also.... not all Brits have bad teath!! lol :P

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  13. Hi Isaac
    I don’t think it’s ignorant or cruel to write about a hard subject matter that you haven’t experienced. I do think it would make a great novel, you could flesh out each life more, because each Kelly had a life I wanted to know better.

    The whole thing about the grass is always greener on the other side, and you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone…I think its easier for people to comprehend why you could commit suicide if you’re in a situation like being sexually abused or living in a war zone than if you’re living in the suburbs and should want to live. I grew up in a loving household, had good relationships with my family and friends, was considered bright (compared to some of my classmates) and on paper I should have been happy-go-lucky. But I felt insecure - fat, ugly and stupid (looking back I don’t think I was any of those thinks), I spent nights crying myself to sleep, sometimes not knowing why I was crying and although I never went through with it I often felt like killing myself just so I wouldn’t have to feel that way.
    Years later I had a back problem I was in constant pain and put about 3 stone on in weight, my depression came back. One night I was in the bath, thinking over what a Doctor had told me; that I was never going to get better that I could be in this level of pain for the rest of my life, and for a spilt second the overwhelming wave of darkness pulled me under. I wanted to die, I wanted to end it, it’s hard to describe…everything left me, everything went – I was emotionless, completely calm and still – I reached for the bathroom scissors that were always by the side of the bath, but for the first time they weren’t there. I looked up to the shelf and there they sat, and in that brief moment I realised that I had chosen to kill myself and ‘give up’ and the calm broke. I cried for ages. I tried to help myself after that; I spoke to someone about what I was feeling, and quit my job so I wouldn’t be in so much physical pain.

    That was a while a go, now I’ve had a back operation and the physical pain is gone, I don’t feel worthless, I’ve lost a lot of weight and feel happier. But the thing I learnt is there are some people who can’t deal with some things the way the rest of the world can and it’s a daily battle, we don’t even know were fighting. I can have a year feeling find and then something can trigger me, the first laps of waves hitting my feet. But unlike before I know how to handle and deal with it. What I’ve learnt is there are some people who will always feel disconnected; will always have a trigger – no matter how happy or sad they are.

    Sorry to go on, I just thought that maybe by sharing my thoughts you might be able to get inside Kelly's head better.

    A point I also want to make clear is that when you’re that depressed, so consumed by your own thoughts and inner demons that you don’t think how it will hurt others. Some people may think it’s selfish but it’s not, you don’t think rationally when you in that head space.

    Back to your story - I liked it a lot and would to love to see it as a novel or just tweaked a little if left as a short story. Also at the end when she realises that there are worst existences and that as the original Kelly she had it good…it irks me. I get that she had come to that conclusion because she could remember all of her past experiences and put them into perspective but that feels like you’re dismissing the pain and isolation the first Kelly felt, if that makes sense. What about changing the ending, so that after beating herself to death with her loo (what a way to go) she could wake up in a shrink’s office and deal with life there, or maybe she wakes up in hospital back as Kelly number 1, she still has these feelings but is learning to cope with them. I know that this maybe less dramatic then your original ending but I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

    By the by Warm Bodies is now one of my favourite books, and I’m only a third of the way in, lets hope the rest doesn’t blow.

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  14. i really liked i'm a zombie filled with love and warm bodies... =)

    this story is also good, but maybe a bit difficult. i enjoyed it and i'm really excited to read you short-story book =)

    see my review:
    http://booksaremydrugs.blogspot.com/2011/02/first-time-kelly-killed-herself-by.html

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  15. Some of these things: "Instead she took the Swiss Army Knife her father used in Monday services to gut the sacrificial puppies, and she slit her throat." are hilarious, but bizarre. They seem out of place and should be introduced more subtly or else it looks like you might be trying too hard.

    I would say have a little more "showing" then "telling".

    The idea is ironic (suicide for a better existence) and that will always get mass appeal. Furthermore, it comments on the grand scheme of things which is nice, but unfortunately the character seems a little too simple to understand the resolution. Otherwise, it doesn't seem offensive.

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