Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Measure of a Man: An Excerpt

The moment everyone (someone, anyone, no one) has been waiting for: an excerpt from my latest short story project. I am still struggling with some structural issues, but I thought I'd share the opening few graphs. Enjoy.

So it came to this. Here sat a man with his name attached to nothing. He staked no claim to greatness, neither in accomplishment nor size. Despite all of his efforts he succumbed to his predetermined life of destitution. And now he sat as a man who only succeeded in being a failure.

The evening was overcast, no moonlight and no interior lamps alit save one in the back bathroom. A mouse scurried across the floor in front of the television with a broken screen. Paint chips dangled in slivers from the ceiling, fallen pieces mingled with dust to create a thick coating like ash after a fire.

A homeless person nested beneath the front porch behind the broken latticework.

The man sat on the sofa, leaned back, hand clenched like claws on his knees. Before him stood another holding a gun. As the muzzle pushed into his forehead, he shut his eyes and every muscle in his body relaxed; for the first time in his life he felt relief.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writing as a Calling and Other Things Thoughts

Everyone suffers doubts. If you don't, you either need a psychiatrist or you need to come talk to me. I enjoy writing, I always have (well, since maybe junior year of high school) and I expect I always will. Lately, though, I've been wondering if I'm not following a dead end. Am I meant to be a writer? The journalism job search has been ridiculously frustrating and I've yet to have a short story published. No, I'm not giving up on either yet, but I'm taking a new outlook on life.

A couple of weeks ago I met with one of my pastors, author of the great blog Hammer and Tongs, and we had a great conversation about life, art and writing. To keep things short, he lent me a copy of "Herself" by Madeleine L'Engle (author of A Wrinkle In Time) which is a collection of her thoughts on the writing life. She was a devout Christian and much of her insights have a Christian outlook attached to them. But whether or not you are a believer this book is inspiring.

One of her main points is this: if you feel called to write then write, but don't worry about being published. Being published is merely a bonus. What is important is that you are feeding the world with words and that you keep at it. So I'm trying to focus on that, for sure. Much easier said than done, but I'm trying. Writing can be a calling without being a career.

In other news, big changes underway. A move is in the works, and I'm hoping the new location will breathe new life into my writing. More information to come.

I just finished reading "PrairyErth (a deep map)" by William Least Heat-Moon. It is a beautiful work that provides insight on the human condition by digging away at the history of Chase County, Kansas. A little self-promotion: you can check out my brief review of it on Suite101.com.

And lastly: I'm working on a new story based off my thoughts on the previous post, tentatively titled "The Measure of a Man." It needs a lot of work (beginning draft 2 now), but hopefully in the near future I can post an excerpt here.