Misplaced cow pies


Where is that cow pie? I've misplaced it again!

Ever since I mentioned “misplaced cow pies” in my post about stories without a resolution, I have been pondering that phrase.


Before we go further into this post, I’d like you to step (carefully) over here. ➨  Isn’t it interesting that I said I was pondering and that a synonym of “ponder” is “ruminate”? Which animals ruminate? Cows! And which animals make cow pies? Cows! Holy cow, you say, what’s going on here? Well, that’s why I am here; to tell you what. There is only one degree of separation between deep thinking and cow pies!  In layman’s terms, it means that when you are in a department meeting, listening intently, and pondering the meaning of all those sounds flowing out of your supervisor’s mouth, you are essentially deep in cow pies.


Okay, you can step back over here to the main idea of the post. If you did a lot of deep thinking, please wipe your shoes. I try to keep this a clean blog. When I wrote “misplaced cow pies,” I had no idea where it came from. I still don’t. This happens to me a lot. But somehow the phrase expressed my irritation with elements in stories that the author puts in for no good reason. Stuff like violence, sex, crude language, and abuse. There’s a time and a place for all of these, just like there is for cow pies. But sometimes it seems the storyteller or the scriptwriter can’t think of what comes next, so they go out to the meadow and haul some cow pies in to make things smell earthy. I think it smells more like bull.


Writer gathering cow pies to misplace in his story.

But the real reason I think that phrase extruded out of my brain was to give me fodder for another post. Brains can be nice that way sometimes.



Every story needs to end


I recently read a collection of short stories and hated almost every minute of it. If they were so bad, you ask, why didn’t I just close the book and move on? That’s a question for a different post. So, I finished the collection with my hate in tact because most of the stories didn’t have a resolution.


Many things drive me wild, but lack of resolution in a story drives me wilder. What is it with these writers? They get to the next to the last paragraph or the next-to-the-next last one and stop. The reader (me) is left thinking – oops, maybe they accidentally printed the draft or ran out of ink. But no, it’s supposed to be that way – very cool and artsy. There is no end to the story.


Author, why do you feel compelled to leave me hanging? Do all these unanswered questions and possibilities reflect some kind of existential angst based on your philosophical underpinnings? Author, unpin thyself from this philosophy.


I just want an ending to the story all right already. Step by step (often through misplaced cow pies) the writer brings the reader (me again) up to what I think is the last door opening into a room where I will come face to face with the Resolution, who always looks taller in person. (Of course, I have to stop and clean off my shoes because of those cow pies.) Mr. or Ms. Author opens the door slightly, and then says, go down that hallway and pick another door. And every one of those doors says “Exit.” When I turn around, the author is gone. Wait, I call out, come back! Sometimes I call very loudly, which disturbs my husband.


Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. Remember all those cartoons we watched as kids? When the action was done, two little words appeared: The end. We learned that a story – always the same one, Sylvester the Cat or Wily Coyote being creamed, diced, or sliced in any number of satisfying ways – began, something happened, and then ended satisfactorily for Tweety Bird and the Road Runner and gloriously unsatisfactorily for the bullies.


Haven’t any of these writers read any fairy tales? How about Shakespeare?  Good guys don’t always win, but somebody does, or it’s a draw and it’s clear. When you get to the end of the story you know it. You may not like it, or may wish it were different, but you know it is the end.


That’s all, folks.