reflections on Mirrors

The daily exercise has been an interesting experiment thus far.

There are a number of constraints I’ve set upon the task:

  • I only look at the picture I’m working on.
  • I can think about the story as long as I like but once I start writing I must finish within half an hour.
  • As much as I would like, I do not go back and edit the completed stories.

The point is to get something down that makes sense, and to move on.

It makes me nervous to publish these experimental fragments because not all of them succeed. This messes with my desire to project a picture of myself as a competent writer. I’ve decided to let that go. Some of these pieces will work, others will fail, and some will be average. Over time, I hope my success rate will overtake the more mediocre attempts.

I know more about the state of Arkansas, and in particular the history of its penal system, and the events that occurred during the period those photos were taken, then I ever imagined I would know. It’s strange what you learn when you start a writing project.

It’s going to take me 45 days to finish it, if I can stick to the schedule. I’m back in College on Monday, and that’s going to add an additional pressure on my time.

I ponder these people, and the lives they may have lived. I worry that I’m doing them a disservice. That I’m turning an innocent man into a serial killer, and painting a dangerous psychopath as a misunderstood idealist.

What story would someone concoct from a photograph of me, if she saw it in weathered black and white, seventy years in the future, and was told I went to prison?

It’s so easy to resort to clichés, even if they are well executed. I don’t want that because it diminishes their lives. I hope I can illuminate something unique to each of these people, even if it is fictional. I do strive for that, but I don’t always pull it off.

But each new picture offers me another chance. I hope I don’t blow too many of them.