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
WHERE ARE WE GOING, AND WHAT ARE WE DOING IN THIS HANDBASKET?