Monday, June 9, 2014

The Irrelevant Never Forgets

The reviews have begun to come through on your latest book, a collection of short stories culled from the ones that have been published.  Without exception, they have been favorable reviews, speaking to a point you've written about in your own reviews of collections.

The chances of any reader liking all the stories in a collection are slim.  Your reviewers are no exception.  In every case so far, the general impression is at least four stars out of a possible five, thus a recommended collection.  A number of reviewers have gone so far as to say they'd not ordinarily pick up such a collection, were drawn in by Deb Daly's wonderful cover, then found the experience worthwhile.

Here's the fun part:  Many of the reviewers ranked each of the twelve stories, and many as well took time to list a number of their favorite passages from the various stories.

In each of these cases, the choices were of material you'd added specifically for this edition, things that came to you while addressing the editor's notes.  Your takeaway from this pleasing set of circumstances speaks to the editor's notes in the first place and you being able to get back into the stories, some of which were going on ten years old.

How easy it is to say of a work that you are now beyond being able to get back into it, that it is either so well fashioned that you cannot penetrate it, or you have lost contact with the emotions that led you to the story in the first place.

Your avowed approach to fiction is discovery, thus your ability to come back after a time to retrofit with the implications of what you've learned since your original completion of the story.

Another matter to consider is the fact of your growth since writing the story, a growth you hope is a direct consequence of your having pursued the story in the first place.

To essay is to try, to test, to examine.  As a noun, the essay is an idea or series of ideas set forth as an examination of variations on a theme.  Fond as you are of the essay as a highly personalized approach to discussing a subject for your own edification, you are by degrees fonder of the short story as a means for using the differences between characters as a basis for exploration.

In addition to story as a variation on the theme of human adventure, you want your stories to provide a takeaway of some vivid image that speaks praise to the possible distractions and side trips visible along the wayside of life in motion.  

This is tricky business; the observation has to seem to be a throwaway, an illustrative example of some relevant beauty or understanding.  Perhaps it even illustrates how understanding is in its own right a form of beauty.

Details excite you.  You are at pains and risk to include in your work relevant details, the emphasis always being the details are relevant the structure and dimension of the story.  You are thus not writing to show off how much you know or how easy it is for you to write a beautiful observation.  Such observations are frequently useless, authorial show-off-ing.

When the detail is an honest reflection of some beauty or sad truth being revealed in the interaction between and among characters, some vital connection is achieved.  You're glad to discover it, whenever it comes, because it makes it easier for you the next time to see and capture the relevant detail.

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