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Month: July 2012

Terrible in its Sorrow

Sometimes I read what I’ve written and I think, how could you do that?

The Bone Trench novel is pocked with very brief flashbacks of the deaths of the bones in the trenches. Despite their brevity, they are intense. When I re-read them, I wonder how I could write scenes filled with such sorrow. 

I’ve just finished revising a short story told from the point of view of a young man who becomes an arsonist. It breaks my heart.

Tonight, at an open mic event, I’ll read a story that, to me, is terrible in its sorrow. I wrote it, I’m choosing to read it. How could I?

Maybe the answer lies in my experience of sorrow. Maybe things seem chilling to me that others shrug off. Maybe I don’t write such difficult things. Maybe I’m too sensitive to sorrow, even that which I create.

here’s to creative synthesis . . . 

One novel is under consideration by two publishers and an agent. Another is with a final set of readers. I’m revising my first set of interlocking short stories. Suddenly, I’m running like a well-oiled writing machine.

These very early short stories are good. Their problems lie mostly in mechanics. Too many words to describe simple movements. Lots of thats. A few unnecessary clutterings.

But, for the most part, I like the simple, clean sentences. The tension that comes less from fear and more from wondering what will happen next. The almost absence of interior thought. The characters’ lying and stealing and drinking and sleeping around. The humor – okay, I always have an odd sense of humor. 

These stories – entitled The Land Behind Pickwick Lake – are worth fighting for. One received a Special Mention in Pushcart. The others, at the time, had trouble finding a publisher. Because, I think, they had too many tiny flaws. Ultimately, I gave up on them because my agent at the time said no one was publishing short stories any more. My bad.

We’ve sold our house at Pickwick Lake. Maybe this led me to return to the stories – a very specific time is fading into the past. Regardless, the lesson is this: stand up for what you love. Even if it’s our own creation.

Come September and a new publishing period, these stories are going back on the market.

Here’s to creative synthesis . . . 

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