I’m open to a great number of inspirations. There’s a little understood affectation on people’s faces when they’re happy, when they’re sad, lying, telling the truth. Their faces betray what their words do not. However, not many people on the planet are very good at reading or understanding these micro-expressions.
For example, when a person is really happy, their eyes show it first. Their eyes brighten and lines around their eyes lift and tighten (I think), regardless of what their mouth actually does. At least this is what I understand.
I was inspired by these facts or theories and wrote a little story called “Deception.”
Deception is about a woman who believes she can read others’ micro-expressions and no one can read hers – because they’re not bothering to look.
I submitted this to one editor and he rejected it with a passion. I think I struck a nerve. He was obviously offended.
The story is fiction. It’s completely fiction. But, obviously, something about it was too real for him.
I believe it might be a bit too real for many, many people.
It’s in the summer issue of Delphinium. Available now.
An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” Considering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?
This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.
Some authors are unhappy when readers see something in their story, novel, or poem that was not intended.
I subscribe to the theory of reader response. Our work is going to touch different people in different ways; readers are going to get out of it something related to what they bring to it, so if they don’t see what we originally intended, they are not wrong, nor did they read it wrong, they are merely giving the writer an insight.
I, personally, am thrilled when readers see something I hadn’t intended. For my novella, West End, one reader said the melancholy of the main character haunted her. Other readers believed some of the characters might have actually been spirits or ghosts. One of the characters, I left open. His questionable appearances deepened the story and the effects on the main character who is dealing with depression.
However, when another reader felt that the son might have been a ghost – it made me go back and reread my own work!
Once the story, novel, or poem is out there, readers are going to take away or put into it whatever is in their own toolbox and we can not control it. We may not like it – I had one person mistake me for one of my characters – but we do have to accept it. I usually thank the reader for their insights, regardless of what I feel about the response.
All readings are good readings!
If you’re interested in reading West End – it’ll be on sale Saturday and Sunday. And – then let me know what you think!
January 19th, is the 210th anniversary of Poe’s Birth.
Although many people are content with the reason of Poe’s continued relevance in our society is the stereotypical tortured artist. There is no doubt he was tortured, and for reasons of which we are all familiar; he was an orphan who lost every women he ever loved.
His battles with alcohol, I believe, are highly exaggerated. But it makes for a good story. I’m not saying he never drank – he drank to excess plenty of times, he may have officially been an alcoholic as we understand the word today; however, it was not a constant. There were many years through his marriage to Virginia that he did not drink or drink to excess. Before his death in 1849, he’d joined the Sons of Temperance Movement – to get people to stop drinking.
The reason Poe has remained relevant throughout the years is his work touches our deepest fears and deepest desires. He has continued to inspire other writers
and artists of all types.
He wrote far more than what we, today, consider horror. He wrote essays, literary analysis, investigative pieces. He wrote about street paving, Stonehenge, and he was inspired by what he read in newspapers. Berenice and others were inspired by stories of grave robbers in local papers.
The famed portrait of Edgar Allan Poe was taken three days after his suicide attempt in 1848.
And, Eddy, my imaginative fiction, was inspired by that suicide attempt. He bought two bottles of laudanum on a cold winter night meaning to do himself in. He’d lost Virginia and felt he had no one. (Laudanum contained opium and derivatives of morphine and codeine.)
For Poe’s Birthday, I offer an excerpt from the novella:
He stumbles from the pub, slips, and falls on the iced over bricks of Boston’s November streets. Save for the muddled voices beyond the closed door, the street is quiet as his body thuds to the ground. His breath billows in front of him as he gasps and grumbles and struggles to his knees, then his feet, to regain his drunken balance.
The gaslamp on the corner offers a wavering yellow glow for the struggling figure on the lonely winter night. Thin strands of hair blow in the chilled breeze; he runs his hands over his head, straightens himself before he pulls at the sagging overcoat and tugs it closed.
Remembering the tinctures of laudanum pried from the chary pharmacist, he hurriedly shoves his hands in his pockets, retrieves the bottles.
His heavy breath mounds in front of him and, for a moment, he can’t see; then the luminous cloud of brandy scented air dissipates. The medicines are intact. Relieved, he stuffs them back in his pocket and buttons his jacket.
“Edgar,” someone calls from the corner; the noise from the pub trails the swarthy figure out until the door slams to a close behind him. “You alright?”
Edgar waves him off without turning around.
The thick shadow chuckles as he staggers in the opposite direction.
The winter is freezing cold, but the snow hasn’t endured. Small white crystals pile in corners and fill the air. The icy rain soaks him before he reaches his chamber on the second floor of the boarding house. The room is small, impersonal, but warmer than the street. An unlit lantern shimmies on the desk as he unsteadily seats himself, glances out the window.
A barely discernable outline disquiets the otherwise muted darkness on the corner of the street below. He knows it’s the black dog that’s stalked him his whole life. Suddenly angered, he shoves himself forward, pushes the unlit lamp aside and topples the ink jar.
“Get outta here, you wretched creature.” The incensed command lost in the night.
Recovering the secreted bottles of opium from his coat pocket, he sets them side by side in front of him. Unsteadily he tugs the lid from one and snorts in a single gulp.
Much love and luck.
We started writing because writing was fun. We have the power to create worlds out of words. We create people and have them fall in love, face their fears, win, lose, and try again. We live many lives!
How can we do that better? Edit.
Oh, no, there she goes again, talking about work.
Writing is the fun part. Editing is the work and will take more time than creation.
One top complaint from editors is a lack of basic editing. How many times have you sent a text message or email containing some sort of mistake only spotted after? We are forgiven because we all make mistakes; however, editors expect near perfection.
I submitted a story (Bowie and the Basket Case, to be published by ID Press this month); It was accepted on the condition that I listen to suggestions from the editor.
I’d read the story easily 100 times. My friend read it. Another friend critiqued it. – all before I submitted it!
I said yes, the whole time wondering what might be questioned.
The editor responded something akin to, “Page 10, paragraph 3: I think you meant than, yet it reads that.”
There were a few other things; however, I was shocked at this tiny error!
Spell check and grammar check never found it, of course. My friends, my editor, and myself didn’t catch it. Mistakes are easy to make, harder to see. (as in life, right?!)
Have fun writing.
Then get to work: Edit. Edit. Edit.