What Do You Do When it Feels No One is Listening?
Some time ago (before I was ever Jessica) I decided to give up writing. I’d been writing and writing and writing with no success. I’d tried a couple of grand ideas, started a literary magazine, published a novel that nobody but my immediate family and friends bought (whether they read it or not, I still don’t know) and had multiple other disappointing failures.
Looking back, I can concede that perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough, or that rather; I wasn’t reaching the right audience. I’ve learned since then that you have to be singing in the right room, as it were, or else your songs will fall on deaf ears. To continue the musical metaphor, not everyone is a heavy metal fan, and if you’re playing heavy metal, you’re not going to have much success if your audience is full of disco fanatics.
Writing is unlike any other art when it comes to an audience. If you are a visual artist, you can show people your work and get instant gratification. It only takes them a moment to take it in, and react. Music is the same – if you are in a band, you can play in front of an audience and get that rush of elation as the audience cheers, claps and sings along. Writers face the challenge of getting people to invest time to read. I daresay that writers are the most unappreciated and taken for granted people at times. People will watch a TV show or a movie and never once think that someone wrote that. They’ll binge 18 hours on Netflix watching some series, but ask them to spend 10 minutes reading a short story and you’d think you’d asked them to move a body and then get an orange juice enema.
I’m sure you’ve felt like this. So what do you do when you feel like no one is listening? Me, I quit for a while. But before I did, I wrote an angry missive called The Last Story, which was, of course, intended to be my last story. It’s about a frustrated writer being held captive by persons unknown, with no one to talk to but himself. If you’re already picking up on the metaphor here, then kudos to you. He whiles away the hours, days, months and years by telling stories, all of which may or may not be heard by anyone but himself. His own private hell is a chamber of isolation where all of his stories are useless. Without an audience, without readers, what good is a storyteller?
The Last Story is, incidentally, the last story in Viscera, a collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications and available now. Sometimes it feels like no one is listening, but I’ve learned that you never know, and that’s just the nature of being a writer. Your audience is mostly anonymous, and you can only hope that your stories are being heard; that your message in a bottle washed up on the right shore, and that somewhere, someone is reading your stories and loving them. For me, that might just be you. I hope so.
Viscera — Jessica B. Bell
Viscera is a collection of short stories full of all the things that make you squirm, cringe, and laugh when you know you shouldn’t. You’ll remember why you’re afraid of the dark and experience an abundance of weird creatures: witches, ancient gods, and all-too-human monsters – the scariest of all.
Indulge your twisted sense of humor with stories about unconventional werewolves and a woman with a frog fetish. Know what it’s like to arrive too late to save an unusual alien abductee, or giggle with sick delight as a woman serves up a special Hasenpfeffer dinner to her pig of a husband.
Settle in for bedtime stories fit for monsters.
Viscera will grab you by the gut and squeeze, making you cry for mercy—or laugh like a fiend!
Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.
Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com
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