Posts Tagged ‘story ideas’

After Death, Everything Is In Focus

March 15, 2009

The classic short story, publishable in innumerable journals: death arrives, preferably unexpectedly and preferably to someone young and undeserving, and the bereaved experience a moment of epiphany. This story will, if written tolerably well, get published just about anywhere.

The death can be imagined, or there could be a metaphorical reference of the passing away of something beloved, like the death of one’s ambitions, or the permanent separation of one’s loved ones.

No matter what dies, the important thing in the short story is to focus on who is the loser, and what happens to him or her when the loss is noticed and then reflected upon. Nothing justifies a complete change in personality or a massive onslaught of conflicting emotions as recognizing that death has come into one’s life and brought with it the heartlessness of cold uncertainties. If death can happen so sudden and unbidden, the soul is forced to inquire, What else can befall me? And the answer to this question becomes as large as the universe, and, because of its magnitude, has space enough to house every emotion and every story.

Nothing can attract the typical short story editor or contest director more strongly.

Let the games begin!

Guru Fascination

January 6, 2009

Guru Fascination (thinking primarily of the stories by Ruth Praver Jhabwala, in How I Became A Holy Mother…)

A quick contemporary anthology of “guru” influences:

  1. Mike Myers, The Love Guru
  2. Jimi Mistry, Marisa Tomei and Ajay Naidu, The Guru

I haeve been thinking for a while about a story involving shamans or witch doctors, who play essentially the role not of physicians but of psychologists, in their primitive societies. When the shaman or witchdoctor is discredited because he doesn’t know scientifically based medical techniques, the society he ministers to loses more than what medical science will replace him with. The witchdoctor, like any guru, is a source of meaning, a god-surrogate. This is why gurus frequently speak in difficult philosophical language, and why in primitive societies, they are considered voices of God.

I like the idea of introducing “unwittingness” into everything, so the unwitting guru, the unwitting holder of meaning for a group, is something that piques my interest. It would have to be in my absurdist style of course. Some questions to answer:

  1. What happens to the holder of meaning? Who first realizes that he’s that person? How does he find out?
  2. Who are the guru’s “followers”? What is this society that craves meaning, and how does the guru provide it?
  3. What’s the ending? At this point, I imagine it will be something Camus-like — the protagonist will end up somewhat still bewildered though he will have “learned” something which will be tangential to the needs of his society. He could also leave the society to find anonymity somewhere else.

I really should finish my pending short story first, though. It’s in a similar style, I should take it as far as I can and then move on to the next, possibly this, one. Bah.

A Genesis Story Idea

January 5, 2009

Here’s another story idea. I was thinking about how one might try to understand the beginnings of human ideas, of morality and religion and politics and civilization, and I thought that our myths and legends are really the end product of many millenia of story telling whose purpose always has been to uncover the past and explain the origins of our thinking. So the idea in this story is a quest to the beginnings of time to find the Primal Stories, the Ur Accounts of How We Came to Be the Way We Are.

This is a genesis story in the sense that it is like the other genesis stories of different cultures. It explains how things were in the beginning from whence everything has come to pass. Today we tell ourselves countless stories but at some point in the past, there must have been fewer stories to tell because life was simpler.

It’s not working out. I will try to come back to it later.