A Story Within a Story Within a Story

"Francesco Gallo," Oil Painting by Laslo Cheffolway

I made a commitment to write and perform at a free reading later this month. It's not highbrow literature, just something for entertainment. The topic is "Freedom" with a requirement to add lyrics from a song. I racked my brain for days about freedom and what it meant to me in a comedic way.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I'm a bit of a Pollyanna who follows the rules. Until I get annoyed with bullshit and then go hog wild. I'm almost at the hog wild stage. For I'm the only novelist in the group. Mostly everyone else is a hobbyist which doesn't mean the writing's sub-par, it means they've jobs that pay the bills. Yet, a lot of them self-promote what they do.

I never did. Stupid me. The entire reason why I do these freebees is to get my name known and sell books, my livelihood, my source of income. Instead, I've a posse who attends each free reading I do, bends my ear later with, "We're still talking about what you wrote the last time!" and takes my promotional business cards. That's it.

When the group started selling promotional items, I dropped out for a while. But decided to rejoin this time to shamelessly self-promote. I decided to bring several copies of "Five-Star FLEECING" along as well.

In this vein, I got real clever and wrote a piece about freedom from blogging. Don't get me wrong, I love blogging! It's the scales to my writing. Keeps the mental muscle alive for my tomes and ebooks that I'm sure you, dear Reader, can't wait to read!

The piece is a humorous rant about being chained to blogging, something that isn't true and the contents of my blog. To keep the comedy going, I added a fictional interaction between an imaginary, generic boyfriend and myself where he was upset that I blogged about us.

That part I thought funny. I've a boyfriend who adores the blog AND my books. We never had a conversation about my blog even the infrequent times I wrote about him because it was never a bone of contention. He knew when he signed on he was dealing with a writer and my blog's part and privy of the package.

IRL {in real life}, certain blog pieces piss off a lot of people. I never realized so many people in my personal life read my blog! Until they approach me. A definite eye-opener. I mentioned this in the story along with the fact that my blog posts usurp reality.

A case in point: I was out with a group of friends. We reminisced about childhood stuff which I earlier blogged about. Unlike what occurred, my post departed from reality and went off into another direction strictly from my imagination. What shocked me was that my friends supplanted what occurred with what I wrote about!

I said to them, "Are you guys for real? That's not what happened!"

"But you blogged about it!"

"YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER - YOU WERE THERE! This is my creative interpretation of events."

It was a sobering moment. For, as I wrote in my short story, I literally rewrote history.

After I completed a draft, I emailed a copy to my boyfriend early in the morning while he was at work. A nice gesture as well as a heads up before he attended the reading. In the body of the email, I wrote, "What do you think?" Never before had I solicited his opinion on anything I wrote.


Within a few minutes, he texted, "I don't like the way you described me. I don't even talk like that."

"Because it's NOT you!" I responded. "It's a FICTIONAL boyfriend to move the story along."

He continued, "Unlike what you wrote in that short story, I never complained about you blogging about us."

"I know that. But this is a fictional boyfriend who has a fictional beef about the fictional blog posts."

Ignoring my response, he got to the crux of the matter. "I'm going to be there. People know I'm your boyfriend. They'll think it's about me!"

Right at that moment I stepped into a parallel universe. We re-enacted a scene right from the short story:

As consolation, I added, "C'mon, we know it's fiction."

He grimaced. "But your readers don't. Great. They think I'm crazy. Awesome." He still chafed from constant goading and mirth at each new post.

"Missing Francesco Gallo" Oil Painting by Laslo Cheffolway
I couldn't believe we had a text argument over a fictional story about my blog which, in itself, is presented as fiction.

To appease him, I altered the descriptions pertaining to the boyfriend, but kept in the references. As I said before, this isn't literature and I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable seated among the audience.

I thought the matter over with this text message: "The purpose of my participation in the reading is to promote the blog and the fact that I'm a novelist. Hopefully that'll segue to book sales."

Fat chance!

That evening, he contacted me.

"I looked over your blog pieces again."

Oh boy. At this point, I bashed my head against the keyboard. For I brought this on.

He continued, "I'm not asking you to change a thing, but now I wonder whether your friends think I'm crazy."

Without hesitation I replied, "Yes, they do think you're crazy. You're going out with me!"

"But do they think I'm the lunatic guy in several of the pieces?"

"Listen, I don't know what they think. What I do know is when we're out with them, they treat you with respect, right? Isn't that what matters?"

This conversation got me to wonder. The blend of fantasy and reality. How my words leap off the virtual page and become real.

Yesterday, I spoke to an attorney concerning a potential legal matter. After I was done, he said, "You know, this sounds like a terrific novel." The man had no idea I'm a novelist.

"But that's what happened!"

"Honestly, Ms. Stone. Things like that don't happen in real life."

Sometimes I wonder whether my tenuous foothold in reality is slipping.

Getting back to the boyfriend issue, let me tell you, dear Reader, my goose is cooked. With this blog post, I'm gonna get feedback. And how! For I opened the Pandora box.

Even more frustrating, I checked the date of the reading. Sure enough, I gave him the wrong day. He won't be able to attend because he's scheduled for a business trip.

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Stacey Roberts said...

For my part, I don't think you're losing your grip on reality. You are good at abandoning the native skepticism most people are shackled with and allow yourself to believe the proof offered by your own eyes. Someone's gotta do it. And as a committed M. Stone fan who has bought all your books, I encourage others to do the same...

Kathleen said...

Write the boyfriend but back in like you had it. I am