A Slow Race

I’m playing a game. How slowly can I revise a story? Bit by bit, I’m clawing my way through “Purple Jesus.” In a way, it seems more like my own story than any story I’ve written before now, although it is not autobiographical. At least not on its surface. I’ve spent nearly two weeks on the first seven pages and the transformation is still in early stages. I’ve mentioned before that the summer’s blast of writing left me with stories that felt complete…but complete stories don’t mean good stories. I can see the story clearly in terms of structure, but it’s the details, especially in short fiction, that make the structure seem unstructured and organic. When I read through the story after typing from my notebook, it read as forced, inorganic, and solipsistic. It’s a first person story and the voice needs that strange balance of revelation and withholding that particular point-of-view requires. Finding that balance is taking a long time, each sentence exposed and laid bare until it looks like it was born in its refined form.  In a way, that’s probably the reason it’s taken me so long to figure out my own writing life. Who knows if these stories will ever see the light of day, but when I’m done with this collection (I think a possible title for the collection comes from the second story, “Houses for the Dead”) I will be able to say that each piece of the puzzle fits just right.

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