The Stories (Not) Told

Patrick McCorkle
2 min readJan 21, 2024

A writer usually doesn’t know what will be the last page in their own story. Unlike the Greek Fates, we live our lives not knowing how many hours, days, weeks or years we have left.

Recently, a member of one of my writing critique groups passed away. He was a couple of generations older than me, with the life experience to match. Unlike myself or others in the group, he hadn’t wanted to be a writer since he was a child. Instead, he decided to experiment with something he hadn’t done before when he joined us.

Once this gentleman finished his manuscript around a year ago, he didn’t attend the group much. I thought he moved on to different hobbies and interests. Little did I know that he had health issues. Now he is no longer with us.

I’ve only experienced the passing of a fellow writer/critiquer once before, during COVID. It was jarring then as it is now. She had many stories she wanted to tell, yet never got the opportunity. So it went for other members who passed away before I joined the group.

I’m reminded of the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” It’s easy for me to take the presence of writers/critiquers for granted. I think that the core members will always be there and others will come and enrich our group for as long as they want, then move onto the next stage in their lives. I imagine that members leave due to their choice, rather than the alternative.

As I reacted to this member’s passing, I thought of one of my favorite poems, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” I was inspired to create a homage to it, dedicated to storytellers everywhere:

Stories diverge in the mind-

Sorry we haven’t told them all.

We feel the weight bind

As they themselves define.

So we answer one’s call.

Is our choice just as fair

As others who want our pen?

Our choice is green, but we swear

Its potential does ensnare.

The rest yell: must I wait again?

For inspiration do we pray

As we prepare to write.

Other stories are for other days

Though with how time slips away

Will we bring them to light?

While much remains untold

From this moment hence

Of this truth be sold.

Telling something, new or old

Makes all the difference.

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Patrick McCorkle

I am a young professional with keen interests in politics, history, foreign languages and the arts.