The reality that exists between Author and Reader and how that gap can create inherent division.
I’m going to try not to make this a rant, but I have a lot of emotions right now regarding a story that I started reading yesterday and I have to get them out somehow or I’m going to burst. I apologize for not posting at all this week, but I have had no motivation to write and didn’t want my posts to this blog to become a chore and so I chose to forgo my usual schedule for a more fluid and flexible one. Back to the topic for this post, though. I started reading a story yesterday that was really interesting and fun to read. The whole story was meant to be a divergence from the world’s canon that the story was told in- same characters, same setting, same conflicts, but just a happier ending which I was all on board for. I’m not a fan of dark or tragic endings for stories- I read stories to feel better, to have my mood lifted up.
Plus, I’m a naturally optimistic person- there can be some truly terrible circumstances in our lives and in our stories and they are often necessary and fundamental to our souls and our growth, but I always believe that the storm will pass, the dark clouds will depart, and the sun will shine once again and that the rain from the storm will be given a new life and purpose in the growth that will follow afterwards. Hence why I do not like the read stories with dark endings because it always seems to me like the author has left us in the middle of the storm as if that was all the character was meant for, that they were just a conduit for pain and misery and the story is just there to hurt us and the characters. No, I believe stories are there to teach us and help us understand the world better- to help us learn and grow so that we can face the future with new understanding and hope. That is my mindset when it comes to reading.
So, here I was today, continuing to read the story I started yesterday. Now, I have read the canon that this story was based on and can affirm that it has some absolutely depressing and dark parts in it where you feel like raising your fist to the air and screaming about unfairness, calling for mercy. Yet, the story doesn’t end there- it brings a happy ending that makes all the pain before it- not worth it, really, but it makes it bearable and makes it easier for you to let go and move on from that pain. Even more, the canon never lied to us- it rarely got our hopes up, it told us straight up what dark storms were ahead and did not try to fool us with pretty blue skies and warm breezes. So, when a truly terrible storm hit, we were prepared and able to endure and come out ok in the end. Sure, we were a mess and still tempted to shake our fists to the sky, but it was less towards the author and more towards the state of the world and society that the book resided in. But with this story I started reading yesterday, oh boy…
Full stop, it beguiled me. It sat there so invitingly, so innocently and I thought ‘hey, why not read it? It sounds like it’ll be really good!’. So I did- there were the occasional storms and heartbreaking moments where I sighed at the unfairness of the world, but it was all understandable and bearable. But then, things started to get better. Plans were made, laid out, and begun, possible problems were on the horizon, but the atmosphere of the story was so bright and hopeful that you were practically intoxicated by it all. Sure, those clouds in the distance look slightly dark, but the wind is not blowing this way. Oh no, they will just pass right on by. All these good things are happening and things are truly looking up- sure, there are still things to worry about and canon is always there at your shoulder whispering warnings, but so many other storms that have occurred have been redirected and guided away that you think that there is NO WAY the same will not happen to the WORST STORM OF THEM ALL!!! Surely, the author will not betray you like that- surely they will not raise you to such great heights of hope and happiness only to make you fall all the way down to the deep chasm floor below, no way!
And then it hits- the worst storm of all. Like a flash flood out of the apocalypse, you are standing there frozen, completely drenched in shock, misery, and despair as all the hopes and dreams you held for the future are completely pulverized and washed away in the storm. Now, usually I am ok with this happening in a story- sure, it sucks, but I can bare it if the author makes steps to apologize afterwards and things start to get better as the world recovers and is rebuilt. But THIS STORY??? I HAVE BEEN BETRAYED!!! The best analogy that comes to mind to explain my feelings right now references music.
This story has been a beautiful and melodic piano piece, flowing notes, mixed minor and major sections, but all of it flowing wonderfully. The piece slowly grows more and more happy and peaceful, occasional minor notes and harmony’s in the background, but nothing that really registers in your ears unless you are looking and searching for it. And then, right when the big movement is coming and your excitement builds to its peak- the pianist stands up and slams their hands down on the keys as hard as they can, pounding again and again and again. The hurried and discordant ‘chords’ slam into you, ringing in your ears and hurting your head. It’s so jarring and abrupt and chaotic and hurried that you feel absolutely knocked out of your seat onto the floor. You do not know what you just heard, but that was not music! That was a disaster, pure and simple. You almost feel like getting up and storming out of the concert hall because of it! Yet there is the pianist, composing themselves- lifting their hands, sitting back down on the piano bench, raising their hands above the keys, and starting to play softly and melodically again as if nothing had happened. I’m a strong believer in the idea that a few terrible seconds of music can ruin an entire song and this moment in this story was those ‘terrible seconds’ for me.
This story was so beautiful and melodic, but that chapter/moment of banging and jarring ‘notes’ completely ruined it for me. All the motivation, joy, and love I felt for this story before is gone and now I’m actually beginning to hate the story the more I try to force myself to continue on reading/listening. But really, it’s not the story I’m mad at, it’s the author. This storm was something from canon and I knew full well that it was possible- I accepted that. What I do not accept is that the author lied to me, beguiled me by saying that good and bright days were ahead only to dump the mother of all storms on me themselves. It is not the world of the story that I wish to raise and shake my fist at, it is the author. Because there was no beauty in those discordant ‘chords’, no artistry, no purpose. It was a mess, like a child pounding on keys, and was so hurried and rushed and out of nowhere that I am actually angry. TO THE POINT OF TEARS!!! Like, ‘how could you do this to me? I trusted you!’ kind of outburst.
So now, though I wish to continue on reading, I legitimately can’t. They have lost my trust and I don’t want to give even an inkling of it back to them in a ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’ kind of thing. And it sucks because I had such high hopes for this story and was so excited to find time to read it after work yesterday and today, spending my busy time wondering what would happen next. Now I can’t even bare to look at the story! Sigh, why did it have to go this way? And why act that way and then toss in a few paltry and quick ‘explanations’ before moving on forward to the future? The aid that you handed to us afterwards was by no means enough to repair or fix the devastation from the storm YOU FORCED ON US! And yet I’m supposed to continue on and buy into your words again?? Ugh…
So, as you can see, I have a lot of feelings from this experience, pretty much none of them good, but I also didn’t want to go and attack the author because that would not be good of me. I entered the story knowing full well what happened in canon and created a unwritten/unofficial moralistic contract with the author and it is their story at the end of the day- they will write what they want to write and I have no say or right to claim otherwise. BUT! I do have the right as a reader to not continue to listen or to read. What decision will I make? I DO NOT KNOW! I’m like 80/20 right now in favor of leaving the story behind, but like I said before, I’m an optimist at heart and I do know that the story with end happily, but is that distant promise enough to keep me clinging on to it all? I guess I will have to wait and see…