In my novella collection Narcissus Blinked, I delve into the depths of several complex, nuanced problems, each intricately woven into the lives and struggles of my characters.

These stories explore the multifaceted nature of human challenges, offering no easy solutions but rather a deep, empathetic exploration of the human condition.

Let’s examine how each novella tackles these profound issues.

Novella 1: “Narcissus Blinked”

In “Narcissus Blinked,” the theme of communication within relationships is central. The protagonist, Jacob, is a character who is deeply absorbed in his creative world, which both fuels his artistic ambitions and isolates him from those around him. This novella explores how a lack of communication and emotional disconnect can lead to profound personal and relational crises.

Jacob’s relationship with his parents is depicted early on as strained by their inability to understand his creative drive. His mother’s reluctance to support his outdoor play performance on a snowy day highlights a lack of emotional connection and understanding between them.

As Jacob grows, this disconnect manifests in his interactions with his college friends and later in his professional life. The complexity of this issue is portrayed through Jacob’s internal monologues and his struggles to convey his true feelings to others.

The nuanced problem here is that communication is not merely about exchanging words but involves emotional resonance and mutual understanding, which are often missing. This reflects the real-world challenge where people frequently talk past each other, burdened by their own biases and assumptions, making genuine connection difficult.

Novella 2: “The Terrifying Assimilation of the Self”

“The Terrifying Assimilation of the Self” tackles the theme of identity and self-perception through the character of Kate Hart.

Kate grapples with her sense of self amid societal expectations and personal desires, a struggle intensified by her relationship with her creative writing professor, Dr. Alexander Wright. The novella explores how external circumstances and internal conflicts shape one’s identity and self-worth.

Kate’s struggle with identity is compounded by her interactions with Dr. Wright, where she presents a version of herself that aligns with his expectations while hiding her vulnerabilities. This dynamic reflects the broader societal issue of curated identities versus authentic selves. The story delves into Kate’s inner turmoil and the facade she maintains to cope with her loneliness and grief .

The nuanced aspect of this problem lies in the tension between the need for social acceptance and the quest for personal authenticity. Kate’s story underscores the difficulty of reconciling these often conflicting desires, a challenge many face in an age dominated by social media and superficial connections.

Novella 3: “A Trickle of Consciousness”

In “A Trickle of Consciousness,” the complex issue of grief and loss is explored through the character of Brian.

Brian’s journey is a poignant exploration of how loss and the ensuing existential crisis can shape one’s identity and worldview. The novella captures the unpredictable nature of grief and the myriad ways it affects those left behind.

Brian’s struggle with grief is compounded by the loss of his dog Abs, which serves as a catalyst for his existential reflection. His attempts to connect with others, including a new romantic interest, are marred by his unresolved grief and his search for meaning in a world that feels increasingly alien to him .

The complexity of this problem is that there is no right way to grieve, and each person’s experience is unique. Brian’s story highlights the personal and often solitary journey of coming to terms with loss, a process that can’t be hurried or forced into a predefined framework.

Wrapping Up

“Narcissus Blinked” is a collection that intentionally delves into these complex, nuanced problems, portraying them through the intertwined lives of its characters. Each novella serves as a mirror reflecting the intricate dance of human relationships, identity, and grief, offering no easy solutions but rather a deep, empathetic exploration of the human condition.

By engaging with these stories, readers are invited to contemplate their own experiences and perhaps find solace in the shared struggles depicted within these pages.

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF-certified and experienced professional, coaching authentic human leaders with a focus on organizations whose Director+ population is facing complex, nuanced problems. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.