new eyes

Last night, while reading through Irish online magazine, Sigla, I looked at their flash fiction section.

It might be more accurate to call it their mirco-flash challenge: you have to keep your submission to under 25 words. Blimey.

I gave it a go and, pleased with the results, I sent the piece to Sigla.

I didn’t do so bad, because I heard this morning that it will appear in next month’s edition. There’s no payment, but I don’t mind since it’s such a short piece.

My character studies continue with varying success. Regular readers will notice that I couldn’t help injecting a weird edge into one or two of the stories. It’s just part of who I am. There’s a temptation to create a linking narrative, but I’m resisting the urge (mostly), because it will take me away from the original impetus: to create small story fragments inspired by the photographs.

On occasion I find myself depressed by this process. Prison is not an end (for most), but is is a limbo. No one wants to be in jail. Taking time to consider how people end up there, and what might happen to them once they are incarcerated leaves me to consider rather dark places. I’ve also stumbled upon data about the current prison system in the USA, and it’s not pleasant reading.

I continue to worry that a white Irish/American chick can write convincingly about these people. I’m crossing gender, racial, and class divides, which is what writers should do. My work would be pretty boring if I only wrote about people like me. I wouldn’t want to read it.

I don’t want to conform to stereotypes, or fall back on the lazy assumptions we make about people just by their appearances. We all wear masks. Some we wear for protection, others by choice, but we can never truly know what other people think, and why they do things.

It’s one of the reasons to write: it’s a way to forge that connection with humanity, to take on another perspective, and to walk a mile (or run a marathon) in another person’s shoes.

To succeed in the future I have to do this: to portray convincingly someone from a completely different background than my own. My idiom isn’t great in places, but most people forgive some slippage (I hope) as long as the character has heart, and traits or experiences with which they can identify.

If nothing else, this is proving to be an invaluable exercise to stretch my imagination, and examine my own assumptions and concepts about race, class, and gender.