Tag Archives: reading

Stories from Memory

Memories are stories we revisit, fragments of the self, quick glances into a past life. They’re some of the greatest short stories.

From time to time, I write Medium articles. If you’re not familiar with Medium, it’s an open platform for readers and writers. Some of the biggest names across the geopolitical, literary, you name it world are on there.

A recent curated article was titled, and I paraphrase: I Hate Short Stories. The funny tag attached suggested a humorous story, and since I had consumed my reading for the month, I couldn’t read the piece. But it got me to thinking how much I love to read and write short stories.

And why.

Since I wrote the article for Medium, they have the copyrights. But I’ll offer the memories that inspired it (quotes), and the link for the article below.

As Neil Gaiman said: Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.

I LOVE SHORT STORIESTINY WINDOWS INTO OTHER WORLDS

A rich imagination sets the scene for Neil Gaiman’s quote above.

As a child, I lived in Bucharest, Romania. There were residential buildings scattered throughout the city called blocks, similar in color and design. They were called sister buildings, having been build around the same time, 1980s, and due to their similarity and proximity. We lived on the fourth floor of one such apartment building sandwiched between several others.

In the evenings, I’d spend time watching the world outside my window — a universe within a universe — and there was a lot to see. People rushing along, kids playing, commuters getting off busses and trudging home.

Then there were the wide open windows — people airing out the heat of the day. Welcoming the breeze. They didn’t seem to care the open windows invited onlookers inside their homes. They lived as if no one was watching.

Day after day, I could see families going through their routines. In the building across, a young family — mother, father, and young child — would start their dinner routine with remarkable punctuality. The father would always bring dishes to the table, so I pegged him as the cook. He gesticulated a lot in between moving dishes. A hand talker. The mother threw her head back quite often, laughing. Easily amused. Or her husband had a knack for humor. The young child would pop in and out — the top of his head barely visible. It would take forever to set up the table, but once they sat down, they attacked the food, consuming it in record time. A fun, no-nonsense family, living an organized life, at least around dinnertime.

In the lateral building, there was a young woman, in breezy summer dresses, always in pale colors, reading. Every now and then, she’d set her palm on the page and stare out the window. I imagined she had read something powerful and needed a few seconds. Or maybe she was watching someone also though open windows. She was two floors below and couldn’t see me. Same as the young family across.

Years later, I realized that someone from the floors above was probably watching me stand there, head swiveling between windows, pegging me as a nosy little brat.

The wide open windows were journeys I made into other people’s lives, not far from where I stood, yet a world away. They were short stories, complete, profound, filled with rich characters and enough detail to briefly let me into their lives. They were encapsulating narratives contained to those moments in time.

A novel is different, although many short stories are later expanded to novels. In a novel, the reader is invited to step across the threshold of a home and inside, rather than catching stolen glimpses through open windows. The entryway might look enticing, so the reader keeps going. Moving from room to room, the reader may be enchanted or disappointed, but she’s gone in and has more rooms to see. She must decide whether to continue or go home.

Short stories are about one feeling, one mood, from start to finish. More is implied, less involved. The reader rides one emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. If the story is well written, it’s a worthy ride.

Source, Via Medium

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photos credit Unsplash: Jan Jakub, Dawid Zawila

I’m in Love with Words

I am in love with words.  Blunt statements go far, so why not start the day with one?

I love how simple words strung together can express thoughts and feelings; how those same words can take on a different meaning depending on what part of the world we live in, or what we’ve gone through in the past.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Language is too.

Turning words to the left or to the right, looking at them upside down and using them like they’ve never been used before — I think that’s love, and art.

Words are always expressed with intention and expectation. They invite audiences in, sometimes seductively enticing us on a journey or fighting us into submission to hear what cannot be ignored.

Does one have to be good with words to love them? I don’t think so. I listen to music all the time. Except for one basic guitar chord, I can’t play instruments. Can’t write songs.

Words. They’re all about rhythm and intonation and meaning.

Especially meaning. Yes, words can cut deep. They can fill us with hope and love. Lift us or plunge us into despair. Some folks argue it’s all about attitude — and sure, there’s truth there — but I think manipulation of words can make all the difference.

So, yes, I love dissecting, stringing together, poring over words (I know, I should get out more). Most of all, I love words in visual story format that works better than movies.

I love discovering new words. Recently, I discovered soporose (sleepy, in an unusual deep sleep). At the same time, I love simple words strung together just so.

Like:

Keys / open / deep-seated /                                        memories-long dead

Tell me about words you love or hate. New discoveries, or lovely, old memories.

Forever Entwined

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The relationship between reader and writer is complex and forever entwined.

Sure, a writer can write without a reader, but if her words remain unread and unexplored, do the words mean anything? I suppose it depends on what we write — journals, novels — but I would imagine those words mean less if they linger in literary oblivion.

Different from speech, writing is a personal form of communication. While the writer should not preach or try to persuade ad nauseam, we are human; much of who we are comes through in a novel. And for $2.99 or some such, the reader steps inside the inner sanctum to explore at will.

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Before I started writing seriously, I viewed the writer as someone who worked for my pleasure. Now I know is for the pleasure of both, reader and writer. One cannot offer pleasure without feeling the same.  No matter how hard she tries. It would come across fake; the trust would be broken.

That is the opposite of what the writer is aiming for when constructing the novel.

What a reader takes from a novel may not be in accord with the writer’s intention. And that’s perfectly all right. A reader’s view is directed by his experiences, his interpretation of the words may be different to that of the writer or another reader who has had a different life experience. It’s what makes the whole process beautiful.

I once heard mystery writer Harlan Coben say he has no books until he has readers. I didn’t know what to make of it until my book was sent into the worlds of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I started hearing back from readers.

Though I controlled the text as it took shape, I was no longer in control of how the reader might interpret it. And the more I heard back the more I delighted in the fact that readers cared enough to interpret away, to ask questions about my characters.

That is so much more than a writer can hope for. It really is what keeps me going back to writing, even on the occasional, devoid-of-inspiration day.

Whatever your creative passion, how does hearing back from your audience feel?

Images: wallpaperswide.com, genius.com