Deep in the doldrums of summer, my friend Hank and I would often take refuge in the KFC buffet. There was almost never anybody at the buffet which explains why they stopped offering it, but back then we'd eat and discuss our unfinished stories. There's two schools of thought about this -- that writers should never talk about the work while the work is in process. To talk about it spoils it, releases the need to tell it. The other school of thought is that it's good to get feedback, no matter what. I'd like to add a third way of looking at things. Hank and I would talk about our plots and characters, and we'd offer each other such uniformly hideous suggestions about what to do next (stoned, no doubt, on the copious amount of grease in the food we'd just sucked down) that by the end of the meal, both of us would have been forced to think of something better for fear we might have to resort to the idea offered. Maybe you could make your character a clown school drop-out, one of us might say. You never read anything about clown school, not really. Or we'd resort to smart-ass mode -- How about a car chase? A lovable character named Gramps? We each had projects that were never going to work -- mine was a novel about a born-again evangelical bulimic whose life had taken a bad turn, his was Yellow Leg: The Incontinent Wolf, a long poem written in entirely in couplets about well, you can figure it out.
When we wore out our ideas for the imaginary world, we'd turn to the real one, which in its own way, was just as complicated as our stories. R never changes her clothes before our dates anymore. She just wears what she was wearing to softball practice. Do you think that's a bad sign or is she just comfortable with me now? Bad sign, I'd say, reading the remnants of my mashed potatoes as if they were tea leaves. Or maybe not, I'd backpedal, could be really good. Hank grinned before finishing off his coleslaw. You're right. Maybe I ought to take it as a compliment. Two weeks later she'd left him for someone she'd met at softball practice. You know even when you don't. That became a poem for him, "When Anne Stopped Changing," (I came up with the title on the next KFC visit) which contained the great line -- What, you never thought anything stupid? I've thought so many stupid things, but some of my favorites are ones where I was stuffing my face on my very favorite fast food, dreaming of fiction and life, the two things becoming one and the same by the time we dumped garbage off our trays and entered into the harsh sunlight once again.Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not." Kurt Cobain
Drinking short story suggestion: Welcome To The Arrow-Catcher Fair Lewis Nordan
Benedictions and Maledictions