The Noise Your Heart Makes – Friday Fictioneers

Welcome to another edition of Friday Fictioneers, with your host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week we have a picture of an empty amphitheatre, as provided by Sandra Crook (a fantastic writer and apparently photographer as well. Who knew?)

This photo struck a lonely chord with me, as well as dug up all kinds of insecurities about not having an audience (my initial draft was very bitter, and involved a reference to really only having readers once a week, but I thought that that might be too jaded and ungrateful, and so I scrapped it). I’ve said before that the very nature of what we do is almost like mutual masturbation, and I hold to that, as distasteful as it may seem. Writing, like music, requires an audience. I’ll do my best to be yours if you’ll be mine, darlings.

Here’s a first for me — a poem — but it just seemed the thing to do.

100 words egg-zact-ick-ally.



What if you gave a concert but nobody came?

Not a soul to hear you; not even your band.

Would you break down and cry in frustration and shame?

Would you sing all the songs that you planned?

Would you stand on the stage looking broken and hurt?

The indelicate punch-line in someone’s cruel joke.

Would you collapse like a rag doll alone in the dirt

And then scream at the void until your voice broke?

And that harrowing sound

Barely audible past your cries?

As you fall to the ground

That’s the noise your heart makes when it dies.


100 responses to “The Noise Your Heart Makes – Friday Fictioneers

  1. The day you posted your first poem, I did the same, with my attempt at Haiku. Love when little coincidences like that happen. Makes me feel like I’m on the right path.

    p.s. I’m all for mutual masturbation.

    • I wrote a piece a while back calling for artists to be more of a community. It’s a challenge both to others and to myself. I do know how hard it is to be an audience as well as a participant. But we cannot expect others to be our readers if we are not willing to return the favour. Thank you for being my audience today.

  2. Dear Helena,

    Here’s how it works for me. I read, re-read, then when a writer’s work grows on me, I look forward to reading more of their stuff. Then I tell others about them and I make a mental commitment to support them in whatever way I can, be it encouragement, critique or support through reviews and/or purchasing their books.

    Critique? You have your protagonist fall to the dirt and then a few lines later fall again. This small detail derailed me from the emotion that pervades your heartfelt poem. (Just me and my solo thoughts.)

    You have grown on me. I look forward to your stories (more to the point, your writing, because I love to read your introductions.) And here I am encouraging you. I like your writing. I am a fan. Do not stop.

    Have you ever heard Joni Mitchell’s song, For Free? Your lament reminded me of it and I wanted to reach out and say that I hear your song.



    • Thank you for your encouragement, darling. Your critique is noted, and I had actually rearranged some of the lines near the end — the collapsing in the dirt and the sound as the protagonist falls are happening simultaneously.
      Ladies of the Canyon is my second favourite Joni Mitchell album, next to Blue.
      Thank you for sharing this.

    • You and me both, darling. I’ve got a box. I remember playing two shows back to back (two nights in a row) once, and the first show went wonderfully, and then, due to a terrible storm that hit at the last minute, I was on stage singing to a nearly empty room. It truly is a harrowing, discouraging experience. Having your passion unheard, unread — it truly is like unrequited love.

  3. Helena I appreciate your honesty and mirror it. Im just at year 5 in my blogging life and have almost thrown in the towel a half dozen times (or more) Ive been stalked, hacked, and more (none of which augment one’s creative spirit).
    I remember when I first met you through FF and I was astounded by your writing – classic, dramatic, funny
    When we give our best it hurts (apparently)
    I am proud to know you and am inspired by your work – this work and all

    • Not to get all maudlin, darling, but what hurts me the most right now is that I’ve lost my enjoyment for it. I know I’ll feel differently once my life has settled back in (some big upheaval recently) but right now I’m so busy that writing — something I once enjoyed and reveled in — seems like another chore.

  4. I’d sing louder, because with no one to judge me, I could experiment all the more. I’d go nuts with it, hone it, and then… look for a new venue with a g-d audience!

  5. Oh that last line! We tell ourselves other’s approval doesn’t really matter and yet your heart does die when you open up it up to the general public and it doesn’t go well.

    Blogging is definitely a roller coaster ride. And I often go through periods when I’m depressed and discouraged. I’ll think why am I doing this? Why? And the simple answer is that writing my blog makes me feel happier more often than it makes me feel bad. So I guess I write for my own well being — come rain or come shine. And no matter what happens each day on my blog, my motto is “just keep going forward” and so that’s what I do. I don’t look right or left. I just keep going forward! Just keep going forward Helena! Otherwise you’ll never know all the wonderful things that are inside you waiting to come out.

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Linda. I need to get “back in the groove” so to speak — right now I feel so overwhelmed with busy home life and work that I can’t seem to breathe long enough to want to write something.

      • Oh I know what you mean! Life is way too busy now. There’s never any down time! Except when you’re asleep — and you’re alseep so what good’s it do!

  6. So much has already been said that I’ll just say that this is heartbreakingly beautiful. Everyone goes through those times. It’s what we do with them that counts. I’m a bit overwhelmed with unpacking and trying to fit what’s left of a much larger house into a smaller one as well as day-to-day living. Take small breaks when you can, jot down ideas even if you don’t have time to write, get together with friends even for a short while. You’ll make it and your writing will be the richer for it.


    • I think you’re on to something with the jotting of ideas down. A lot of my frustration comes from having good ideas but no time. If I store them away like nuts for the winter, then when the winter comes, I’ll have something stored away.

  7. Great poem, loving it. Reminded of a theatre play I attended some years back. In stark contrat to your poem, the play was dreadfull, and about an hour into it I was the last spectator left. I also couldn’t stand it and left. Till today I am asking myself the questions: Did the actors finish the play after I left or did they stop?

  8. I think we’ve all been “there” at some time in our lives…”singing” to a roomful of empty chairs. It’s kind of a…thud…in one’s life. Does it help to know that I’ve had my share of…thuds…in my 64 years on this planet? 😦 And since no one was there to witness…I just got up and put another gig together and went on…”singing.” That’s life…

  9. Players upon life’s stage we are inseparably linked artist and audience, the one feeding the other. Though now as I’ve aged I sing and dance full tilt for myself whether or not anyone listens. I too have days where blogging seems a graceless exercise against my daily world.Then I dive back in to escape. I really enjoyed your poem. One thought- I might move the fall to your knees line up two-between screaming into the void and that harrowing sound.Loved this.

  10. I think it’s great that you went with a poem. Well done. I know what you mean about the audience and the feedback… the give and take. It’s hard life we writers choose. My blog has just taken off, and I readily admit, it feels good. I spent a lot of time second-guessing my efforts. Stick with it. If you build it, they will come. 😉

  11. Helena, I really liked this. The poem is beautiful and as others have said, the sentiment speaks to the artists soul. I’m always here – can’t always comment thanks to hell … I mean work… but I am always reading!

    Did you know that not a single person who knows me personally reads my blog? My dad doesn’t count because he reads it to gauge my mental state. Which is troublesome, given I talk to the people in my head. Thankfully, I have found like-minded people and kindred souls all over the world, instead! 🙂

    • Hi Katie — I am so vain (I think many songs are about me) that I choose to write under this clever pseudonym so that my real life people don’t know it’s me — I crave the true response and clamour of strangers who owe me nothing!

      • I don’t think that’s all that vain, actually – it’s freeing to not have anyone know it’s “you.” Plus, attention = amazeballs (I didn’t make that up, I just have a recipe for “paleo pumpkin amazeballs” staring at my from my other monitor and felt the need to use the word in a sentence!)

      • Penny’s the expert when it comes to neologism, so I’ll just to trust you on the validity of “amazeballs”. In the meantime, I wouldn’t try playing in in Scrabble until you get some professional confirmation.

  12. Pingback: Terrifically told tales | The D/A Dialogues·

  13. Darling, that was a pleasure. I’m glad you decided to go with your poem so I could be here to read it. I will stop by more often. Your take is genius. I really loved it, just the outpouring of emotion and despair. Oh, the feeling that performers when no one arrives to their performance…it must feel tragic.

  14. Dear Helena,

    Volumes have been written in comment form already. I add my voice to the others in saying that your poem spoke volumes to me. Suffice it to say your courage and honest are appreciated by this reader.



  15. A poet’s premiere.. you did great. a sad story but you managed a tight rhythm (that was a near iambic) cool rhyme-scheme and a punch at the end (which in poem would be called a volta).. I wrote my first poem about 2 years ago, and now I’m totally hooked on that… Looking forward to see you posting on some of the poetry sites as well *smiles*

  16. Helena, this is a heartbreak so many creatives know well. We have to make people care, and very often how much we care doesn’t make others give a damn. (I’m finding that out at this very moment with my own project. Most of my friends don’t bother to read anything I write, and after listening to me talk about how much this means to me, recount how much money I’ve spent, etc., the best most of them could muster was, “Wow. That’s great. Now, back to me.” It’s a continual process of focusing on the people who enrich us and choosing to hear the good things and celebrate those things over everything else.) (But hey, the anthology is in the top 100 in 3 categories in the Paid Kindle store today. So, somebody, somewhere is buying it.)

    And, I will say this: it took me almost a year to build up any significant readership on my blog. When I was early days, about fifteen people read it. That went on for months. The various changes the Internet gods of Google and Facebook have made to try to make money have not helped people like us. I watched my readership nosedive by half in one month last year, with no changes on my part. It was all Google/Facebook changes. Be patient. You are a gifted writer who can assume multiple personas and can cross multiple genres. Whether one person or a thousand people show up does not diminish the value of your words unless you stop making them. And, that would be tragic.

    • I could gush again about how thankful I am for you, but you already know, and I don’t want to swell your head (evidently you’ve got some gelato to work off so I don’t want to add any more swelling!) But thank you.
      Incidentally — I don’t have a kindle, but I have an iPad — are the files compatible? Do you know? and B) will there be a paper version? Let me know, darling — I am excited to read it — you don’t share much of your actual prose fiction, but what you have done I’ve enjoyed, and I look forward to being able to read a big chunk.

      • There is a Kindle app for iPad. I use it and it works well. Here’s a link to check it out:

        There will not be a paper version of the anthology. I have another anthology coming out with a different group any day now (details are scarce; it was supposed to release over the summer), and they usually do paperbacks as well as ebooks (though, again, details are scarce on this one.)

        My book comes out March 1, 2014, and it will be both paper and ebook. Too many of my readers prefer paper, and quite frankly, being ebook only really doesn’t feel like I’ve been published anywhere. Ha.

      • I thought I saw something about a Kindle App. I’ll check that out. I’ve got entries in an anthology coming out on Kindle soon, too — I suppose I’d better get the app!
        I hear you re: paper = really published, though!

  17. Oh, yes. Been there, been that, been so many of those folks on the stage and off. So you really struck a chord – zing – e minor – the saddest key, we all joked about. But, all the world is actually a stage, so just play it as it lays, with all that remains of your heart.

  18. I’ve played a few gigs where the audience was tables and chairs. Not very invigorating or satisfying. Same holds true for writing. We need that response to bring the creativity to life. This one struck a chord with me, Helena.

  19. so much has been said already. but we can all relate to this and i’m glad for your honesty. it’s frustrating for me coz i have lots of followers but the only ones really commenting on my stories are writers from FF. makes one wonder why they followed my blog in the first place, but then i just try to be grateful 🙂 keep writing! you’ll find a home for your work and also, i think, forget winter. do it now. write it now 🙂 ideas are cheap and they’ll keep coming and coming

  20. Oh honey, it reminds me of the night I told my mother I was getting a divorce. She was so angry at me. I blubbered like a lost child and couldn’t explain why I wanted it. After I hung up, I screamed. And screamed. And screamed. Until my voice was nothing but a croak. When I got home, I spoke to no one. I crawled into bed and slept. I wanted to die.

    • I’ve covered this territory in my memoirs portion, but having your parents reject you when you need them the most is the most painful betrayal. The fact that you’re going through this now makes my heart ache for you, because I NEVER want to feel like that again.

      • It’s okay, I got this. With or without the support of my mother. I can’t change her. I can only love her for what she is. I’m thankful my dad is supportive. I’m stronger than I’ve ever realized my love. I really am.

        Big hugs and kisses to you Helena. I think you’re an amazing person.

        Love, Renee

  21. Hi Helena,
    You seem to have struck a nerve with the writers in this group. Both your poem are comments are insightful and philosophical. Writing is a lonely journey, and I sometimes wonder how much great writing is out there going unread. I think there’s some satisfaction in creating good art, but I agree with you that all artists would like an audience to react to their work. I often envy musicians, because they get that immediate audience feedback. Writers seem to be the most isolated from their audience and writing is often very much an act of faith. You put it out there and hope someone enjoys it, even if you never know about it. ron

    • I am glad that everyone responded but I almost feel like I’ve made some unintentional cry for help! I agree with you regarding the musicians versus writers comparison. But at least people don’t boo us when we write a stinker.

  22. I don’t know if you’re serious or this is really fiction! If it’s serious: don’t want an audience. Focus on the art. The art will nail the audience. As it should be. As it is. You’re doing it anyway. You’re very talented. I am your 80th commentator. I haven’t had 80 comments on one of my blog articles in the 2 years I’ve been writing it, unless I count the spam! Oh, I think I had 79 visits once! Oh, you’re greedy! 🙂 If it’s fiction, very convincing take on the photo prompt. Ann

    • Don’t let the numbers here fool you, darling – half of these are my responses. People do like my writing, it’s getting them to show up on a regular basis that is the challenge. I have my faithful few, and if I can pick up one or two new actual followers a month, I’m happy. Thank you for taking time for me today – I really do appreciate it. I thought your poem was brilliant, displaying a literary mind. I look forward to browsing your site to see what else I can find.

  23. I enjoyed your well-written poem, and the thoughts behind it gave me pause. I’m pretty sure if I sang, everyone would leave, anyway. Writing is different from performing arts, much like a painter in a studio, alone, and wondering if anyone will like what they do. The message I keep hearing is, “If it speaks to only one person, it was beneficial.” Hope things settle down for you, and writing becomes fun again.

  24. We just do what we are – as someone said. Your poem certainly struck a chord with me, it is really a very good piece of writing.

    Writers need an audience and feedback; this FF world is strange in that, for most of us, our audience is made up of photographs or personalised gravatars and we wait for them to respond to our efforts each week, trying to get to ‘know’ the person behind the photo by reading the comments they leave.

    Having said that, I enjoy being part of the community and I have missed being away.

    Best wishes

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