Prose Archives

PROSE ARCHIVES, 1974-1993

 

Circa 1974-1984 I wrote scores of short stories. I stopped not because I lost interest but because teaching took too much of my time and my energy. So I focused on poetry, which was easier to squeeze between the margins. And theatre, which tied in better with my work with the kids. 

 

I didn't publish many of these stories. Except to a few contests, I don't recall sending them out into the void. But there were journals with which I had a relationship; seven stories got taken. anyway. Some hold up better than others, but I'll archive all seven. I'll be more selective about which unpublished ones I post—and much more gradual—but I do want to archive some of those also. This is almost all apprentice work—for an avocation I abandoned until twenty years later, when I began to think it might be time to try a novel. Although it's fair to say that as a poet, I have at least been as interested in storytelling as in lyric musicality. The line between my poetry and my prose, in all honesty, can be pretty thin.

 

THE (ALMOST*) COLLECTED PUBLISHED SHORT STORIES

(*I reworked several later stories as one scene plays; a published one is filed at the Playhouse tab.)

 

The Creativity Seminar, 1975

~ written at Garnett College, University of London, for a Creativity class I took for my teacher training diploma; the version published in the college journal rather perplexes me. This is a tidying new draft.

 

Killing the Fetid Calf, circa 1980

~ published in a VCU lit mag while I was taking a writing class there; it placed 2nd in the mag's fiction contest, I believe. I'd completely forgotten about this one until I worked on this folder.

 

I Knew Laura, circa 1981

~written for a VCU writing class; the instructor was the story editor for the New Virginia Review, and had me rewrite it so that it would be polished enough for him to include it—I was honored and thrilled.

In class, he had advised us to set our stories in a single time and place; I immediately thought of F. Scott Fitzgerald's story "Winter Dreams," which takes a different tack. I took my cue from it.

 

Froggie, Jump, circa 1982 COMING SOON

~ I'm torn about archiving this one. I was the literary editor for the VCU journal it ran in, so it's kind of self-published. What damns it more is that it reads to me as inauthentic and cobbled together. I stole bits of it from the far superior non-fiction piece "London Fog," which appears in my book "Mutt Spirituals."

 

Fate, circa 1982

~ I like how "Fate" evokes for me my time as a language assistant in Lille, France. The palm reader core is true; the characters and the rest of the story are concocted. I wish I'd had the nerve to write the piece as creative non-fiction. "Fate" and "Broken Glass" were both published by the late lamented Richmond Quarterly. As I recall, I placed second in their short story contest, for the pair or for "Broken Glass."

 

Broken Glass, circa 1982

~ "Broken Glass" was inspired by my private duty nursing work with Mr. Brown, a patient of mine during my two years at UVA Hospital. He strongly resembled Mr. Kent; Mrs. Kent is kind of like his sister; the POV character is not, I think, me; the KCl story is an "almost." There was a real bicycle crash, in the Fan, in Richmond, but it's fictionalized here—apart from the moment of impact, which is from memory.

 

Here, In the Hospital, late 80s? published '93, but quilted out of pieces written from 1976 to '83.

~ Yet another 2nd place contest story! But this time it placed in a national contest, judged by Gordon Lish, for the 1993 Roberts Awards Annual. He commented that it was one of the only entries that showed any understanding of "the uses of style." It's based on true incidents from my three years in nursing, two of them on a medicine floor at UVA Hospital, one in the O.R. of St. Mary's in Richmond.

 

COMING SOON: at present I can only find an early draft of it

 

 

THE (SELECTED) UNPUBLISHED SHORT STORIES

(Coming soon!)