When reality is creepier than fiction

The other day, a friend of mine tweeted me about the sneakered feet that have been washing up for years in and around Vancouver, BC. Her comment was that it “creepily reminded” her of my story, “The Old Man and the Sneakers” (Farthing April 2006). I have to admit, the similarity had never occurred to me — my sneakers didn’t have any feet in them, after all — but once she mentioned it, I realized she had a point.

The funny thing is, the inspiration for that story was also a true incident, not the least bit gruesome, which you can read about here. The short version: a container ship lost a couple of containers of tennies during a storm, and after a while they started washing up on the shores of Oregon and Washington, my old home turf. This struck me as a wonderful starting point for a humorous story, which is what I used it for. Here a brief excerpt:

It began the summer the Nikes washed up on the beach by the dozen—but never by the pair. The old man knew it was a sign. Young people descended on the sleepy town on the Oregon coast to collect sneakers, descended on the towns to the north and the south, beachcombing for sandy, wet tennies as if the shoes were the rarest of treasures. They held trading parties in the Safeway parking lot, big public gatherings characterized by laughter and loud music.
That was when the dancing began.
It was all wrong. They danced in the parking lot, wearing mismatched Nikes and cutoffs, an intimate dance, hip and hop and hot, rubbing their body parts against each other, in public.
The old man watched, and his face grew red and his chest grew tight.

Now if the shoes had feet in them, I’m sure I would have written a very different story.

My progress on new fiction in the last week has been minimal, and I need to get back to a daily word count. But I’ve done a lot of editing on two different projects, both Chameleon in a Mirror and Yseult, as well as some brainstorming and organizational work on another novel, Fragments of Legend. Mostly however, I’ve been doing translating, the work that puts food on the table. We have a big project right now that needs to be done before we go on vacation — less than two weeks now. Nothing like a little pressure to make you work harder!

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10 thoughts on “When reality is creepier than fiction”

  1. Sneakers. Complete with feet. There’s definitely a story in there somewhere . . .

    No! No new shinies until I meet my goals!!

    Good luck on yours this week. Sometimes you can do your best work with the proverbial gun to your head. 😉

    1. Ain’t it true? 🙂

      (BTW, a short story only takes a little while to write, so go for the sneakers with feet! Sometimes we need a break from the big projects.)

  2. Isn’t crazy how a single detail can change the overall tone of the story? Tennies of the beach easily lend themselves to a humorous story. Tennies with feet, on the other hand… Not so humorous.

    Glad to hear that edits are coming along. Hope you get everything done before it’s time for vacation!

  3. Yes, the feet-in-shoes news is creepy, I’ve been checking for updates for the past week or so. Yes, I’m drawn to weird, morbid stuff. lol

    BTW that beginning you wrote for shoes-sans-feet is intriguing. I would absolutely read more. 🙂

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