I’ve gone dry. Months of knowing too much and having nowhere to put it. I open a blank Word document, the pixel-white scatters the letters my fingers refuse to willingly type. I haven’t happily written in three months and for me that implies that I haven’t lived in three months. I’ve taken to carrying a notebook around again, one that my ex gave me four years ago that I refused to fill with anything but love letters devoted to collecting her essence in my horrible handwriting. I find the note I wrote and taped to the front flap, professing my undying love for a woman who liked to love everyone but me – I later discovered. I take the lines I wrote then and the false-starts from the recent week’s worth of diligent scribbling and try to form a story:
A couple Xanax
and I’ve got nothing but southern drawl and a few static scenes.
StoryTelling Periodic Table
This is a brilliant chart and one I will certainly use in the classroom.
I’ve moved back to the States and have been lucky enough to remain a part of the STORGY community. Check out my latest short story; inspired by a trip I took to Brussels.
An excerpt from the Afterword
‘Facing History’ submerses readers into Anna’s life moments delving into specific scenes – as remembered – but often hangs lucid in a meditative state, in the generalization of events, a possible conditional tense, working to question the capacity of memory.
Life doesn’t happen in a linear way. We collect and arrange events in order to make sense of them. We write stories that often follow a linear pattern, some element of a progressive arch, in order to authenticate human growth via a character. How we construct the narratives in our lives, how we recount a day’s events to a friend is a means at which we as humans possess control over our surroundings. Life unfolds as it will and we construct those events to feel we have truly grasped the lessons, meaning, the content. “The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.” [xiii]
We learn one thing, it surfaces years later and it becomes something else. Perhaps it has broadened our understanding. Or a childhood memory is now diagnosed as the nub for an inability to commit long-term. We have little control over the pace at which we learn. Deferred action as James Starchy notes: “Early memories that take different meanings as a person grows older.” [xiii] Writing, for me, is a way to collect lessons through characters, to explore what they might have been then and assess those transformations now (fictionally), to take those past memories and unveil flawed human perception. Constructing ‘Facing History’ narratively, I am opening up numerous coming-of-age moments with Anna’s character shaping them in the order I believe an adolescent memory might recollect.
By telling a story this way, readers are given both opportunity and challenge. Opportunity to put the puzzle together as they read and challenge to read closely, find the lessons learned in section one that surface in the character nearer the end of section three. How words look, sound, remind us of something else – how each word does this for all of us – similar to our attachments to love songs. There is no “wrong” way to use a word in a fictional narrative (of course this could be argued). The words used at the top of each section are connected to the work that follows. This linguistic expression I am speaking of is a reapportion of language, forces you to know the word but not depend on its prescribed definition, instead to make it your own. Fictional dictionaries are a way of “self-ing” the dictionary, the making of meaning, creating new meaning rather than repeating information. This format is a scaffolding of narrative memory, a merge of the novelette in an experimental format.