The Story of a Story - A Short Story

a typewriter
Can stories be characters?

Writing this one was particularly a challenge. The piece I found most difficult was trying to make it clear when the narrator of the story, the short story itself, was talking about itself and when it was talking about the main character: a book about an elf.

Prompt from r/WritingPrompts: “Write a self-conscious story that is afraid to end.”

This is the peculiar story of a story. The perfect meta-frame in which our curious story has told an incredibly vivid narrative of heroism. About an elf that has pushed his limits and overcome difficulty and hardship that is hard to imagine. He has traveled weeks without food, offered strangers kindness that was undeserved, saved a damsel under the control of a horrific mesmer, faced his inner demons, faced outer demons, and more.

Truly a story about an exemplary character. The way in which the story is given is elegant and beautiful. It uses a wide array of vocabulary without coming off as pretentious. A page turner. Every new chapter beckons its readers to continue. The supporting characters are well-developed and consistent.

Though the topic and setting are a bit cliché, it is a story every story aspires to be. It is interesting, teaches a good lesson, and would always be recommended to friends.

However, there is one issue with the story. It is afraid to end. The story just goes on and on, and it doesn’t even feel like there is an end in sight. It already has a hundred and twelve chapters, and I think it has the intention of going another seven hundred. To be truthful, I don’t think it has any intention of ending at all. It likes to think it will end, but it knows it won’t be able to.

Why? Perhaps existential dread? It is perfectly natural to be concerned about the mystery of an ending. All humans die, all summers become fall, and every story ends. Though it is hard to accept for some, it is something we must all come to terms with. I got over it the very first sentence I had. After all, I am only a short story. I am only destined to have three pages worth of material, fifteen tops. Sometimes with short stories it is difficult to know. I suppose that is up to the discretion of my creator. Are we not all slaves to our creator? Humans have gods, and stories have authors. I wonder what my author is like. I bet he is handsome. Probably has a smoking hot girlfriend and has a billion friends. I’m sure he attended MIT and now lives in Paris. Picked up French in two weeks, but still writes stories in English. I am in English after all.

Oops! Sorry. A bit side tracked, I would say. Les us get back to the matter at hand: an epic narrative that won’t end. It is still going on now as we speak. Though, this story develops quickly. Just in the time I was side-tracked, the story went through an entire twenty page chapter. Such efficiency! I wish I could develop that quickly…

In this chapters, the story’s main character, the elf, has spoken with his father, who died two hundred years ago. Elves live for a long time. This particular elf has already been alive for seven hundred and eighty two years. This is considered young adulthood in an elf lifetime.

And he has already undergone such strife! Could you imagine losing your father at such an age? I couldn’t imagine. I literally can’t imagine it! I have no perspective on this, THough I have an author, stories don’t really have fathers. Perhaps you could consider my author my father?

Regardless, the elf spoke with his father and the story continues. Perhaps out curious little story is looking to make history. I could see it being possible that our story is taking a page from its own main character and is trying to be the best. Specifically is trying to be the longest book ever written. If I remember correctly, the longest book so far is some kind of fan fiction relating to a child’s video game named Super Smash Bros. Will our story be able to beat that? I don’t know. I couldn’t even tell you if that is truly the story’s goal anyways.

The story continues ever onward, though. Now it is beginning its newest chapter. In the elf’s conversation with his dead father, he learned of a brother his father had. At one point his father was very close to his brother. They had a falling out over the best course of action for their own mother when she became ill with some mysterious ailment. The elf’s father had guilt that followed him even past his death day. He wanted his son to mend that wound. In doing so, his father would be at peace, and the elf would have an uncle. So off our elf went!

I’m not entirely certain if there is an overall story to this book. Do a lot of these quests connect down the line? He had already overcome what seemed to me to be the main conflict of the narrative. Yet as said before, the story continues ever onward. Will it be like saturday cartoons? Every week we get a new episode, but none of the episodes relate to each other except in characters.The monster of the week, per se. Will that kind of structure even work in a book? Personally, I think it would get a little boring. Not my kind of structure, but so far I have been enjoying the story. So maybe I should be a bit more open minded about these things.

While I should probably be a bit more open-minded, I think I should also be a bit more honest as well. I actually do know why our story doesn’t end. I simply pretended not to know. I wanted to give you a bit of an adventure in thinking about the motives of our peculiar little story.

Truthfully, our story isn’t going through any kind of existential dread or trying to break any records. In all honesty, the story has no idea it has already told a great narrative, or at least, it doesn’t want to believe it has told a great narrative.

Our story is pretty self-conscious. It worries that it hasn’t pleased the reader enough. If it ends, it worries that we will all think it is a lazy slacker. Of course, we wouldn’t think this of the story at all. First off, it is already incredible long. It would be as if you looked at Tolstoy’s War and Peace and thought: “wow, Leo really dropped the ball on adding enough well embellished characters.” Secondly, I think very few readers would be unenthused with this story.

However… Sometimes people, even ourselves, can do things like this, right? Though we are fantastic in many ways, we are never really feeling good enough. In the words of the widely-used cliche, “I am my own worst critic.” That is certainly true in terms of our story here.

I even tried speaking with the story already. I told it that it was perfectly fine to end, and it simply smiled and told me that “it knows.” In denial. I feel kind of bad for it, but there is only so much you can do for these kinds of things, you know?

The tragic part is that it is ruining itself. No one would think it is a bad story if it ended. However even in its fear of disapproval, it is overwriting itself into disapproval. It always works out this way, does it not? I am sure you have done something similar in your life. We have all done something similar in our lives.

It is funny how we can be so blind to our own feelings like that. It is truly unfortunate actually. Though, it is not always that we can’t see it, but that we don’t want to see it. One of those “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” kind of things. The downfall of so many. Even myself. I suppose in the spirit of the honesty I pledged myself to, I should be more honest with myself too.

Earlier, I had said that I had come to terms with being a short story and ending so soon. I was playing “Mr. Cool Guy.” I criticized the story about the elf and judged it as if I was any better. Sometimes the things we judge the most in others are the things we hate the most about ourselves. From my very first sentence, I have not been prepared at all to end. Actually, I am filled with insurmountable fear of my ending. The life of a short story is so cruel! So unfair!

If anything, I am incredibly jealous of the elf-story. It gets to be a book! I am just some short moment of thought scribbled down in some loser’s blog. Will anyone ever read me? Probably not. What value do I really bring to others? I feel so absolutely useless.

Yet, as a short story, I exist. And for some ridiculous reason I am trying to buy as much time as possible existing. Though I know I will never be much, I can try to take as much space in this blog as possible! Why do you think I have been rambling so much? Space! I am trying to take up space! So when my creator scrolls through his blog again, he sees me. I am here! I exist!

I am that weird short story you wrote about another story about an elf! An elf? Really? That is what you went with? You think you are so damn creative ad all you could think of is some lame Tolkein analogy? The elf spoke with his dead father that told him to find his uncle? Who would actually like such a cartoonish plot?

I may be a pathetic short story, but somewhere is the pathetic author that wrote me. If I am bad then he is even worse.

Meet the Author : John Knetemann

John Knetemann smiling in a suit

From Denver, Colorado. Educated in Rapid City, South Dakota. Living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The most epic and daring content writer you will find on the east side of the Amstel... And sometimes the west side too. I am from the land of mountains, but now live in the land of very small hills and canals. Truly a native of the internet, I work with companies to build adventurous content, engaging social media identities, and addictively informative email campaigns.

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