“Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write more entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of a person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.”
“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”
“My main disappointment was always that a book had to end. And then what? But I don’t think I was ever disappointed by the books. I must have been what any author would consider an ideal reader. I felt every pain and pleasure suffered or enjoyed by all the characters.”
“One place understood helps us understand all places better”
“People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs, and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.”
“I wanted to read immediately. The only fear was that of books coming to an end.”
“My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”
“Art is never the voice of a country, it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction.”
Patricia Flaherty Pagan edited Up, Do, an anthology of thirty-three flash stories by award-winning and emerging writers. The four categories are “Our Hearts”, “Our Bodies”, “Our possible Futures”, and “Our Dreams; Our nightmares.” In the Introduction, Pagan writes:
“I subscribe to the theory that flash fiction is like a geode of a larger narrative. Slicing through the characters and the highest arc of the plot, the flash writer reveals the crystals shining within. Every movement of the blade, every word typed on the page, is crucial.”
Short stories have become popular again with readers. For writers, flash fiction in its required minimal word count is challenging . Pagan captures the essence of the form in her description. When well-written, flash fiction sparkles like gems in the mind.
I opened Up, Do at random and read, “Time Machine” by Melissa Webster. In its brevity, it evoked as strong a response as I had with the three hour movie in theaters now, Interstellar.
Flaherty Pagan earned her MFAW from Goddard College and founded the mission-oriented indie publisher Spider Road Press. Up, Do is available on Amazon and Kindle.
The YouTube video is an interview with Elizabeth Strout about truthfulness and her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, OLIVE KITTERIDGE. I met her at a lunch/reading at Town Center Book Store in Pleasanton, California when OLIVE KITTERIDGE was first published in 2008. I told her that my novel, EVA, was almost complete, but I didn’t know who would read it. She said to keep writing and not to worry about who will read the story. It’s more important to write what you want to write. I remember her advice whenever I start a writing project.
Today, I heard a thirty-minute interview on KPFA radio where she discussed her new novel, THE BURGESS BOYS. She said the inspiration for the story came when she cleaned out files from her novel, ABIDE WITH ME. The Burgess boys were minor characters at the end. She had scenes with them as children , which she didn’t use in that story. She thought about what they would be like when they grew up and realized as adults they could be the main characters of a new novel.
She wrote sketches and more sketches about them, then cut, revised, and developed the plot for this new published novel.
Since Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors, I’m looking forward to reading THE BURGESS BOYS.
Our fellow writer, Anne Koch, sent me a note card with the following quote by an unknown author:
“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”