Fiction Tells a Deeper Truth

By Jay Stoeckl, May 15, 2023
._Abbot and the Stone - front cover.jpg
Cover Abbot and the Stone

Okay, okay, I know! You were all looking forward to Jennifer’s return. I promise, she’ll be up and running this week. She is still nine hours from home and spending tonight in a hotel in Billings, Montana. Can’t wait to have our Captain back at the helm.

Over the weekend, I took apart Stanley’s temporary kennel, the space where he spent the winter. I reassembled his panels beneath the new shelter behind Cabin 4. As Merriwether joined him, the two are now the night time guardians to the puppies in Cabin 5.

Then yesterday, I was able to get one more in place. Cabin 3. Cookie Monster, Albretta, Jenga, and Syrenka all get to stay together in their new 10’x30’ space. This is pretty exciting, because we could not wait for this stage to get here. The doggies appear to be so much happier on the sandy surface beneath the solid structure rather than on old straw beneath 2x4s and OSB boards.

This Wednesday, I am returning to my other gig, driving tour buses for the American Queen Steamboat Company on the Columbia River. It will be my turn to be gone a few weeks. This is good for me, because it will give me a break from the demanding work of home and allow me evenings to write.

Jenn and I remain two boats passing in the night.

As I transition toward this gig, I want to first express how pleased I was with the response I had last Friday. Many of you expressed interest in being a part of my short story course as a way of putting together our first anthology. I am so very pleased to have you! We won’t start until June, but it will be fun all the same.

One of the replies in last Friday’s email was from Eve. She asked the question: “so I am sure I understand, fiction is ok?”

You might find this hard to imagine, but IMHO, fiction writing tells the truth more accurately than sharing a life experience. Yes! Fiction is most welcome!

What? What do you mean there’s more truth told in fiction?

When we write fiction, we expose more about our selves because we open something deep within in order for the imagination to work. There is more about me, for example, in my trilogy than you would find in my musings. Our dreams, our frustrations, and our complications all come out within the characters and scenes we depict when writing fiction. In a sense, we are naked to the world when people read what we have written.

To slighly illustrate this, I want to leave you with a few paragraphs of my first chapter of Abbot and the Stone. I hope that some of you will give me some feedback. This is from the first chapter entitled, The Ghost in the Darkness.

In my life, I have had a few experiences with angels and I have had a few experiences with ghosts. These come out pure and simple in my writing. The images within our imaginations are part of something deep within us.

When I shared with you my experience of seeing Cotton Candy lost in the misty shadows of night, that inspired me to do this chapter. And yes, the dog in this story, though male, will be based on Candy. He does not appear in the story until Chapter four, but you’ll hopefully find him later on when the book is finished.

Here goes:

In the innocence of night, Valencio awoke to hear the creak of a floorboard.

It was the kind of sound one would make if sneaking across an old wooden floor, just the rubbing of one floorboard to another.

In the twilight that poured into his hotel room, Valencio opened his eyes and peered about. A passive light sent shards of twig shadows from a tree outside his window. From an unassuming breeze, the leaf-coated branch silhouettes danced across the wall pretending to know nothing of the disruption.

The creak happened again. This time it reverberated louder than the first. It must have come from the same place just a few feet off the corner right flank of his bed.

“Who’s there??” Valencio sat up, his thumping heart now dominating the silence. “Show yourself!”

Valencio knew the entity would never reveal itself. Ghosts rarely do once they are discovered. The stillness became even more menacing than the floorboard creak. Even the tree shadows ceased their foxtrot across the hotel room walls.

As he kneaded the fringe of his bed quilt through both sets of fingers, Valencio half-expected to see a shadow move, a wisp, anything that would indicate the ghost’s guilt and send it into a panic.

Once the bedside light enveloped the room, neither wisps nor tree shadows could overshadow the light’s dominance over the room. The young man, threw his body out of bed on the opposite side and sucked on his clothes.

His bags would have to wait until daylight. Being nocturnal, ghosts rarely ever make trouble once the sun is up.

With his blue suede jacket tight about his body in the three o’clock chill, Valencio walked out the hotel’s narrow entrance and into the stone streets. The strong beating of his heart mimicked his steps as he scampered into the night.