Post by earthtrekker on Dec 26, 2012 17:37:48 GMT -5
Every Day Fiction published my fantasy flash story “Deprescience” on December 13 and since then it has received positive comments and a solid 4/5 rank so far.
If you will, read my story and then if you like it and find it to be “excellent” give me a five (five stars), but of course I will accept whatever vote you give. You need not log on to vote, only to comment, which would be nice too. I think the vote is most significant before the end of the year.
Post by earthtrekker on Dec 26, 2012 19:08:24 GMT -5
p.s. Some discussion. Every Day Fiction is a secular publication and many/most of the published stories do not reflect a Christian world view. Many of the stories represent high quality concepts. The writing quality is mixed, in my opinion. “Deprescience”, while not “Christian” in any overt sense at all, nevertheless points to an essential Christian element. I won’t say what it is here, but I’ll be happy to discuss it after you read the story. As an amateur writer, publication in EDF is a bit of breakthrough for me. I like the publication chiefly because of the submission process. For two of my submissions I received critical personal comments from four and five reader/reviewers, the last set coming with a request to rewrite. Duotrope ranks EDF among the most personal in terms of responding to submissions. The editors love stories and appreciate good writing. I would encourage all members of The Anomaly to send them a submission or two. In the meantime, don’t forget to read my story.
Post by earthtrekker on Dec 28, 2012 18:42:43 GMT -5
Thanks Myrthman. I think the story tells about his future. Notice: Interpretive Spoiler Ahead. Thinking about his gift… it may only apply to his own life and others as they relate to him. I guess (and hope) that he has a keen sense of God’s provision for believers through eternal life. He would write about Heaven in ways we could understand and be encouraged by. How else could past loss become our future than in life after death? (He who loses his life will save it.)
Post by earthtrekker on Dec 31, 2012 6:07:14 GMT -5
My main competitor is the story “Distant Thunder”. I’ve described it as richly written but ending in despair. The story has received high praise from a number of other writers and it does have a degree of sophistication. What no one has much commented upon so far is that the story contains a strong sense of morality. First, the son betrays his girlfriend by dumping her and chasing someone else, a fellow art student named Anastasia. Then the son is in turn betrayed in a lurid and caviler way by his father, a person he loves and admires. We never find out if the narrator learns anything from his experience. We do see his natural reaction: an urge to vomit, physical weakness, pain. Even if people do not believe in morality they cannot escape its effects.
I do not like stories that end in despair. And if that story is “exquisite, superb, beautiful” etc., I like it even less. And if the story is also heavily sexual, then it is repellent as well as alluring. Much better is Tolstoy’s discreet approach in Anna Karenina where he contrasts Anna and Vronsky who commit adultery, with Levin and Kitty, who find fulfillment in marriage and a domestic agrarian life.
The title “Distant Thunder” is a reference to a painting of the same title by Andrew Wyeth. The painting is of his wife and possibly suggests that the narrator has lost the possibility of painting a wife; certainly it will not be Anastasia. Wyeth secretly painted nudes of Helga, who was married to another person, but I won’t try to work out how this relates to the short story.
Maybe I am unrealistic, but I would have ended “Distant Thunder” with the narrator, after time to adjust to his shock, intending to ask his former girlfriend for forgiveness.
"Deprescience" is effective as short fiction. It's structured well around it's central plot device. I think it's a little too short; I would have liked a little more investment and detail about Tim's depression and his relationship with his grandmother. (Why did Tim not know his grandmother? Was she an introvert all her life, alienating her family? If so, is that alienation what she saw as her future when she was young?) However, I see that the "About Us" box on the Everyday Fiction website explains that the stories they publish must be no longer than 1,000 words, so I think "Deprescience" is well enough developed given the length restriction.
Deprescience -- knowledge of depression? That's an evocative title. The most explicit theme is the need to accept loss, but I don't understand exactly where the story is going with that. Tim needs to accept that he's lost his future in order to gain it. So, he needs to accept the fact that his present situation is lacking the happiness and the fellowship that he has been dreaming about throughout his life, or else he will never know that happiness or fellowship. Therefore, I interpret this as a call for contentedness in life, though I'm sure it's more than that.
I didn't like the characters much. The grandmother is an intriguing character, because she has a background and a fascinating premise. The other characters feel hollow and stereotypical. Again, there probably wasn't time to develop characters deeply, given the word limit; so I won't count that against the story. However, Tim just doesn't seem very sympathetic to me. He's selfish enough to cry over the glorious revelation that his grandmother brought to him, when she herself is dying. In my opinion, he steals his family's sympathy. He's a picture of the melodramatic type of personality that I myself am afflicted with. Over the years, I've come to see how selfish it is to be melodramatic. The description of Tim as an unmotivated, mopy college student -- depressed without having good reasons for depression -- describes me too much, and I hate that. I also think the ending, implying that Tim has found his true love, is rather cheesy.
The joyful ending doesn't seem effective enough, because I failed to see the legitimacy and reality of the sorrow. Still, it's an intriguing story, and it is very well constructed. I'll be rating it on the site, and I won't give it a low rating, either.
Post by earthtrekker on Jan 2, 2013 9:32:41 GMT -5
Thanks for the review and comments Bainspal. The limited length does impose a strict environment, but it also allows a degree of polish that’s harder to reach in a larger piece. Flash fiction is, forgive the metaphor, catching fire in popularity. In such a short format a writer has to cover a lot of ground in few words. Why did Tim not know his grandmother? In the story, his mother said that she was disturbed and I hoped that would convey at least a sense that Tim’s parents kept him away from her. She had the same afflictions and worse. Deep background is that she spent time in mental institutions. The editors at EDF asked the same question, and that brief line was my fix. I edited out more explanation from the rewrite, thinking it was too heavy handed.
Deprescience is a hybrid of depression and prescience, prescience being “pre-knowing” literally, or “foresight.”
Tim’s biggest immediate challenge, I think, is to accept the fact that because he did not understood his gift, his first 20 some years of life were horribly painful. People, including his parents, thought he was schizophrenic. He needs to forgive his parents for this misunderstanding not only of him, but of his grandmother, who would have been a supportive ally and possibly a mentor with his unusual gift. Seeing one’s future will be as difficult as any ability. And as we still only see through a glass darkly, it’s still possible to not comprehend the visions. Prophets of the Old Testament surely didn’t understand everything they saw, nor do we.
I would agree that Tim is not easily likeable. My favorite comment from a reader at EDF said that he hoped Tim would hang himself until he came to the end. But I will defend him. He did pull himself together to some extent as you can see from his essay. He is more or less polite to his mother. (“No thanks” to the offer of supper.) He is helpful (putting his dish into the dishwasher). He did go visit Grandma and sat near her bed at the hospice.
Tim’s crying. I did worry that he might seem self-centered here, but there’s a lot more going on. His Grandmother is dying and everyone knows it. She’s in her last moments. Tim foresaw this the day before, though he wasn’t aware it was a vision. So, when he (and his parents) cried, it was part of the pain he had felt all of his life, a pain that now had an explanation. People will read it differently and that’s fine, but my take is that the family hadn’t fully experienced the loss of Grandma yet. That will come as time passes. For the parents, who have visited here there before (they know Margaret), they have already accepted her death to some degree. For Tim, he was crying also because he was losing his Grandmother. I wouldn’t say he was melodramatic in his circumstance, his was a simple natural reaction of a person who has learned to bottle up his emotions. The bottle breaking, the dam bursting.
The cheesy ending. I love your honesty! One of the editors at EDF agreed with you at an earlier draft, agreed on that and the “joyful ending.” I don’t think it was entirely joyful. His voice was caught between a sob and a laugh. It was a mixed ending. But certainly if you thought ill of Tim, the ending would come off all wrong. The ending was risky, but I went for it, hoping to understate. People often do the unexpected in the presence of death. One minute they make a joke and the next moment they are tearful. I imagine that the people in the story will really begin to fully mourn their loss of Grandma when the curtain closes. After the end of the story.
Depression. In some ways Tim is me. I went through a bad period when I was his age and a few certain details of the story are biographical. I had a close relative who I visited in a state mental institution when I was an early teenager. It was a horrible place for a young person to be... What helped me move out of depression was finding a purpose in life that motivated me to be disciplined. That and being grateful for what I have. And then physical exercise was essential, too. All of this applies in the present as well.
I assume you are a writer. Where might I find some of your work?
Post by earthtrekker on Jan 2, 2013 9:41:54 GMT -5
"Deprescience" is now at 91 votes with a 4.2/five rating. Thank you for voting! If you haven't read it yet, please do. And consider submitting at EDF. It's a great venue. Rated among the most personal at Duotrope.
Post by earthtrekker on Jan 3, 2013 16:33:55 GMT -5
Bainespal: Well, if you review writing, you are a writer... of creative non-fiction and literary analysis. I looked at your blog. Intriguing. I noticed a link to Digital Dragon. I submitted a story to them a few weeks ago. Haven't heard back yet.