Featured Story - July 2008:
Happy (excerpt)

 

It had been perfect until then. We were like anti-matter, his wife and I. L.A. was mine. If she came into it, one of us had to disappear. I didn't want to write about her.

He put his head in his hands. "Oh, man, don't be jealous."

I looked at him. Then he mumbled, "Shit!"

I wanted to tell him, Don't tell me what I can and cannot be, but decided that it wasn't worth the strength. This wasn't the kind of relationship that people fight over. Both of us sat in silence. I didn't know why I wasn't putting my clothes back on and leaving. Instead, I crawled towards him. I took his hands from his head and kissed his forehead. "Maybe I want to be jealous," I said like an actor ad-libbing. This'd better be worth at least half a story, I said to myself.

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About the Story

Many years ago, when I shared a first draft of this story with my writing group at the time, it caused quite a stir. Writers writing about writers is always a risky proposition. Even when it's benign, it could reek of self-consciousness. Or it could be the worst case of self-centeredness. And writers writing about writer's block is definitely not as clever as it sounds. It didn't help that the narrator in the story - the writer in question - doesn't have nice things to say about his colleagues in the writing group. Questions of autobiography inevitably arrives. Even to a group of writers, I found myself explaining that what the narrators thinks can be very different than what the writer believes in. But bad thoughts were thought, and it came from the mind of the narrator as well as the writer. It is frustrating for most writers to answer the question, so how much of this story is based on your life? When we write, our writing is a reflection of ourselves, but it doesn't have to mean everything has to be "factual." Anyway, the narrator in this story does and think some stupid things. I wrote this story at the time when I was experimenting with the concept of unsympathetic narrator. And it was a fine line in trying to draw sympathy to an unsavory character without defending him. I was writing with my left hand, as you might say. To do that, I relied on a lot of irony, the idea that the narrator is somewhat delusional about himself and things that are much more obvious to the reader. I like this story because it took one of my characters to a pretty dark place and left him there.

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