A friend who browsed the published and about-to-be-published short stories posted here told me he admired the variety of topics and situations that populate my ouevre, and asked where the different ideas come from.
The honest answer is: beats me. Some draw, usually obliquely, on my own experience. Others — I think I like these best — begin by visualizing and describing a (protagonist) character, and letting my imagination put him or her in a situation that embellishes itself until a story, an insight, presents itself. It’s an approach I came to admire in the collected short stories of the contemporary Irish writer William Trevor, whom some professor in my Fairfield University MFA course suggested I read. Hardly unique to Trevor, but he does it very well.
My most recent accepted story, Parting Company (which will appear in early December in Literary Heist, a fledgling online literary magazine) is an example. One of my new neighbors has the kind of lanky frame and stride one can recognize a football field away. I played with describing him one day, a kind of idle, musing exercise. Then into my mind popped a hardware store that thrived in downtown Hartford a half-century ago, but succumbed when a dwindling number of people came into the city to shop. My neighbor — at least as I constructed and elaborated him — would have been at home there. And my maternal grandfather, Charles Lotz, was “a hardware man” who taught me the meaning and overtones of that phrase.
And there I was, writing Parting Company. Sorry to say that I can’t let you read it all until December, when I can post here a link to the magazine. But the copyright rules say I can let you read a lengthy tease. Read more