Tipping Point

If this isolation has any purpose, perhaps it is to force these hands to transcribe something. Anything. Unconnected or unrelated, but present. A frenzy of phrases tumbling around my feet. Come to order. I’ll pen them in.

The Purpose of a Piece

I’ve been working on a piece of writing off and on for three years. At first it was just a collection of scenes, saved in separate files. Memory flashes, really, with no framework. Then I started assembling the scenes and discovered I’d written 15,000 words without any connective tissue. Once the framework and support material was worked in, the word count was sitting a little over 30,000 words, and I still had more story to tell. So at this point, I’m going for broke to see if I can manage the final 20,000 words to push it into short novel territory.

I’ve had some good support along the way. One of my friends has offered some much needed suggestions and, just by reading the work, helped me keep focus. But one of the things that happens when you bring in other people is that the subject of publication comes up. I’ve had to spend a lot of time defending my decision not to attempt broad publication.

The biggest reason is personal. I’m telling a story that is not wholly mine. I was part of it, but I have borrowed the clothes of someone I loved years ago and I don’t have his permission to revive our story in this way. If I were still in contact with him, the story could not have happened, and the story is a really terrible reason to get in touch with him again (though thanks to the internet, he was embarrassingly easy to track down). I’m not sure the way I cannibalized our relationship would stand up to his scrutiny. A few people have suggested I publish under a pseudonym, but that avenue seems passive aggressive.

However, I have some professional reasons for not wanting to seek publication. It’s simply not worth publishing. I say that being intensely proud of my story. I love what I have written. I am happy to have written it and I am excited to see it to completion. But it would need a professional editor before it went to a literary agent before before before… I’m not willing to pay for that whole process for this work, and I’m possibly too close to the material to allow professionals to do the work I would pay them for.

This story is catharsis and proof of concept. I have no interest in airing my personal therapy session to the public (it will be available privately once it’s done). But now I am confident in both my method for writing a long-form story and my ability to churn out a large number of words. Which I hope will some day lead me to write something worth the agonizing process of getting published.

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A Lexicon with No Mistakes

In the absence of better words, I choose to believe we loved. Emotions like handspun wool, sage green shot through with sunset scarlet and the garish coral of prairie twilight. Woven unevenly cozy into patternless motifs. Fuzzed with facts and friction. Reduced now to a pile of scrumbles I stitch together with the echo of your voice. Because you, my erstwhile confidante, know quite well that my flirtations with reality never make it past the second date.

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Expectations: Met

Oh, Roderigo, of course I know you were nothing like this. Your life has been full of joy and purpose. The on-balance happy we all want. Maybe you wonder about me once in a while. If memories are to be dissected, deemed objective, I must accept that I may have been important to you only in passing. Back when I held court between woman and girl and you were boy-turned-man, I knew the definition of love but not how to use it perfectly in a sentence.

I found a picture of your imperfect face. I have not forgotten the shape of your hands at rest, the pitch of your gait, the timbre of your laugh. A hundred traces of your lips broken around your teeth to smile with me. Riverside kisses and a song for your heart. Trim the photograph around the best parts of us, and forget the rest.

I want to meet the woman you married. Know the age and variety of your kids. I want you to meet the loves of my life. If I could, I’d invite you for Saturday dinner. Because reconciliation is best served hot with a side of baked potato.

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