I wrote this story. It was pretty good, maybe a bit pithy, but with really interesting characters and an ending that caught you off guard that was happy without being cheesy. I’d say it was one of my better stories. The only problem with the story was that it spoke for itself.
I’ve always spoken for my stories before. That way the story is how I want it, and when I say that the death of Graham Ericsson signifies the death of liberty, or that Vera is based on my first girlfriend, or that the name of the bar where they meet really doesn’t mean shit — I just tried to think of a good name for a bar — there’s no one to contradict me.
This story, though, has an entirely different interpretation of itself than I do. I don’t know why this story speaks for itself. I can’t think of what I did when I was writing it that was different from what I normally do. I also can’t figure out where this story gets its ideas. Its interpretation of itself is completely flawed. It sees meaning in all these little details where there isn’t any, and it clearly doesn’t understand the ending.
I sat down with my story and tried to get it to see things my way, but it wouldn’t. Worse, it went around telling other people how I didn’t even understand my own story. I told it that it was my story, and in future, I just wouldn’t read it, but then it crashed a book signing, going around to everyone and telling them that if I couldn’t figure out one story that I’d written, I was probably misrepresenting my other stories too, and then those stories were worthless.
I told my story that I could wipe it out. I pointed out that it hadn’t appeared in print anywhere yet, that I’d just read it in a couple of places, so all I needed was a match or a paper shredder and a delete button and that would be the end of it.
Two days later I caught my story on CBC’s All in a Day. It said how I not only didn’t understand my own stories, I was trying to suppress them. It said that a story should speak for itself. It said that was its whole message and it was woefully ironic that its author, having written a story about how stories need to speak for themselves, was now threatening to silence it.
It was never about stories speaking for themselves, though, which is why I felt okay after I’d killed it. I mean, I did my best by it. I tried to correct it, and when it didn’t get it, I warned it, and then when it didn’t listen, I followed through.
A few wags have lamented the loss of a great story. A one of a kind that really spoke for itself, the Toronto Review of Books said. But when a story won’t listen to reason, what can you do except create an example for future stories?