It has happened. Not often, but the pain is great. I’ve lost a book. Maybe on a bus or somewhere public and irretrievable. The story is lost.
What happened to those people? I was involved in their lives.
Did they fall in love?
Did they find what they were looking for?
Did they get the prize?
Did the boy finally notice her?
It matters to me. I know it’s just a book. They aren’t real people. But the author is taking me on a journey and it’s incomplete. When it’s cut off it feels like an amputation.
There are real people in my life too. That’s totally different, right?
I’ve written before about the social contract. When I have become involved in a person’s life, I want to hear about the plot development.
How is your puppy’s house training going?
Did you decide to go back to school?
Is that neighbor still being creepy?
Did your kid try for the play/orchestra/beauty pageant? How did it go?
I want to know! I care about you and your life now. Sure, characters in a novel are more dramatic and the plot lines are usually spectacular. But I care about real people even more.
This is that time of year, when all the plot lines are updated.
‘Tis the season. A new season! All the Christmas letters come in. There are some with very thin updates.
Not much more than a signature. E. is still alive and she likes me enough to send me a card. That’s nice!
Others send pictures. Ooh. She has glasses now. My goodness! The kids are so tall!
K. got a dog. And she’s still at the same house. She loves that house.
Some send letters. The letters require some interpretation. Is the author a reliable narrator? Is there something between the lines? Are they happy? Are they happy with the facts of their life?
The classic look-at-my-successful-life tone for Christmas letters of yore spread easily into the social media environment: fabulous filtered selfies, vacations and accomplishments.
This year I’m behind on my Christmas letter. It’s 2020. Not a lot of fabulous to report.
My filters have never been that good anyway. My “wonder” is more about wondering than wonderful.
I have been wondering how everyone is doing. I am glad to see the faces, the ones I’ve known so long. It’s okay that most of us are grayer and chubbier. I don’t want to lose the story.
I’ll send my update soon. I don’t want to leave anyone hanging.