I’m going to begin Four Antecedents with two vignettes I wrote two years ago. At the time, they formed part of an anthology I was writing with my then-business partner. We composed seven stories apiece, each relating to one of the biblical Deadly Sins. Clichéd, I know, but it was fun and useful to build some creative momentum.
The two I’m posting, Synthesis and Simulacrum, refer to envy and sloth, two experiences very close to the darker side of writing. Some of my other entries into the anthology were comedic (and might see the brighter walls of this blog in the future), but these two tales, whether time has treated them well or lent them to entropy, are based on my very own demons.
Synthesis is about a woman named Mel who goes to see an aerial performance at a theatre with her friends. At first, she’s bored and unimpressed, but the skills of the artists grow on her, and as she returns again and again to the same performance, she becomes enamoured with them to the detriment of her social and familial lives.
Writing is inherently a selfish endeavour. Writers must often abandon the traditional aspects of life and sometimes even turn their backs on friends and family to complete something that carries no guarantee of success or reward. Some balance this trade off better than others, but no writer is immune, and some even suffer the same fate as poor Mel; forever wishing themselves among the stars but never coming down to Earth.
Simulacrum is a little less dire, but perhaps just as visceral to the aspiring author. It tells the story of Jane, a writer whose portfolio claims no greater honour than a few short pieces graced by a local literary magazine. One day, she discovers a story that reads exactly like hers and begins an imaginary feud with its creator. The problem is, he might be more like her than she’s willing to accept.
Living in the shadow of others is something we can all relate to. It doesn’t matter how good you are, someone’s always better, they say. For the artists, from writers and painters to actors and musicians, finding out your brilliantly original idea is doing its fifth tour as a Broadway remake of a movie based on a novel can be devastating. Just remember; no story is untold, no painting unseen, no song unheard. They’re all built on the same foundation, but how they engage with their audience is always unique.