Last night some of the workers from Magically Real HQ had dinner with some family members. Being Jewish, we did some complaining, some eating, and then we did some talking about other family members (don’t worry – it wasn’t any of YOU).
During that meal, I remembered a story I wrote about a distant relative. This distant relative was mean, arrogant, oppressive, and obnoxious. I wrote a fairy tale about this person where they come to a bad end in Oslo Norway.
It was a pretty good story but I was never able to place it.
Years later this person has had all sorts of problems and setbacks. I’m not sorry I wrote the story, but I’m glad it never got published.
Sometimes telling, but not sharing the story is the right way to go. This is not to say that injustice shouldn’t be named and unfairness shouldn’t be identified. And Horrible Acts should be shown to be Horrible. But sometimes, it’s perhaps a good idea to write that mean story about that mean person, and just KEEP it.
And maybe use some element of it for something else.
Here’s wishing everyone a happy week filled with judicious, effective narrative choices.
Stephanie Barbé Hammer is a magical realist prose fiction writer, novelist, occasional essayist, and a committed, intermittent poet, as well as a passionate instructor of writing. A 7-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize she has published work in Hayden's Ferry, Pearl, CRATE, Rhapsoidia, NYCBigCityLit, the East Jasmine Review, Apeiron, Inlandia, Literary Alchemy and the Bellevue Literary Review among other places. She is the author the fabulist novel THE PUPPET TURNERS OF NARROW INTERIOR (Urban Farmhouse Press), a novelette, RESCUE PLAN (Bamboo Dart Press), a prose poem chapbook collection, SEX WITH BUILDINGS (dancing girl press), and a poetry collection, HOW FORMAL (Spout Hill Press).
Stephanie's new novel PRETEND PLUMBER is available for order from your favorite bookstore, and her poetry chapbook CITY SLICKER appeared in July 2022. Stay tuned for her novella, JOURNEY TO MERVEILLEUX CITY, coming out in 2023!
View all posts by Stephanie Barbé Hammer
4 thoughts on “storytime sunday (monday edition), 02/11/13 — When you don’t share the story”
My husband once said “Some books should be written, but then the author should immediately destroy them.” Do you agree with this?
Thanks for posting! I don’t know if such books should be “destroyed.” Maybe yes, if you name names in them and people will immediately recognize themselves or others. On the other hand, maybe you should just sit on them for a bit, til you forget what exactly you were writing about, and then salvage the details.
A book that was written and should have been destroyed was my first attempt at a novel. But to get back to your post, I think you were right not to publicize the original story. Maybe though, there’s another aspect to it. You mentioned the person fell on hard times later on. Now it gets interesting, not for revenge purposes, but for an opportunity to explore the character in greater depth (fictionalized of course). Maybe there’s a story now; maybe not.
haha! I’ll bet your first novel was good. I still love my first novel AND my second. But yes, that’s a great point about thinking about that character and perhaps revisiting him — fictionally of course! thanks very much for your thought!