Daily Handbasket: Turtles, etc. 11 May 17


A friendly box turtle came to visit on our porch a while back.


On my screen this week is a short story for a Southern gothic anthology. But it’s more Jane Eyre/The Secret Garden than Flannery O’Connor. It’s one of those stories that I can see the end of very clearly, but I will have to rein myself in because it really wants to be a novella. I’m will whip it into shape, though. The next couple of days will be very busy. I would tell you the title, but it doesn’t have one yet.

Characters must eat, and today they were eating turtle soup. The thought of eating turtle soup makes me a little sick, but it was standard fare on most American restaurant and club menus up until the early 20th century. All I can think of is the many turtles crossing many roads around here in spring, and the giant, grouchy snapper who showed up in our yard looking for a place to lay eggs. Also the sweet, green turtles who sun themselves around our pond. The thought of killing and cleaning one is very distressing. It’s a certainty that if I had to kill my own food, I would quickly become a pescatarian. (No gruesome slaughtering videos, please…I have seen enough.) As I read up on turtle soup today, I stumbled into a kerfuffle: Saveur magazine did an interesting if incomplete piece on a turtle hunt, and the resulting soup. Then Slate did a piece on turtle hunting/eating that took great exception to the incompleteness of the Saveur article. Slate made a very good point. I just love discovering strange little dramas like this one when I’m doing research. It’s just another reason why writing can sometimes be a slow process for me. There’s so much to see along the way.

On the subject of short stories: There’s a fine line between a short story and a vignette. Too often I read short stories that are essentially long scenes or collections of scenes–just glimpses into other, fictional lives. A vignette can have a conflict and a resolution, but there’s no real journey of discovery and change for the character, or characters. When you reach the end of a vignette, you might think, “Huh. Not sure what the point of that was.” They can be entertaining, but not very satisfying. And there are a lot of well-established writers out there getting away with it. Then again, maybe it’s now just considered a kind of short story because so many people are doing it. The world changes, doesn’t it? Probably because it’s one big, true story. Go figure. (I still want WARNING: VIGNETTE on every one that’s disguised as a short story!)

Rain tomorrow. I’m hoping to get up early and plant the Astilbe and Harebell plants I picked up yesterday. I also bought something called Hummingbird Mint. Have you heard of it? It smells marvelous. I’m thinking of putting it in a planter so it’s not so low to the ground. But it’s a perennial, and I want it to be around next year. So maybe not.

Have a lovely Thursday!


May 10th Words
Journal:  50 words
Long fiction: 0 words
Short fiction: 480 words
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 543 words
Exercise: An evening walk


2 thoughts on “Daily Handbasket: Turtles, etc. 11 May 17”

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    I adore Jane Eyre and Flannery O’Connor, Laura, and I also understand the distinction between a vignette and short story; I have a few vignettes on in my word documents, that I did as a quick exercise, but there’s something to be said for both.
    I also have a thing for turtles; for some reason, I have always felt so sorry for them for some reason. Yes, we are also expecting rain in NJ.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      I ran out first thing this morning to get the plants in the ground before the rain, and we got nothing but a pleasant, feather-light shower that cooled me off while I watered them in. No real rain at all until 5 minutes ago, late at night.

      Except for snapping turtles, turtles just seem harmless and hapless. What’s not to like, right!? Also, they don’t look any more like food than frogs, lol. 🐢

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