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One Small Glimpse – One Piece of a Puzzle

The week started well. My story, Most Dead Birds Are Never Found, was featured in Eunoia Review. (A link to the story, along with several others, is below.)

The publication of that story marks a sort of milestone. Most Dead Birds… is an excerpt of my novel-in-progress, tentatively titled, I Should Love You Less. Other than my wife, my Queens University classmates and advisors, and a few other special readers, this is the first public appearance of any part of the book.

Sharing part of a work in progress–or, conversely, talking too much about a work in progress–is a tricky thing. This part of the story may change. It may evolve. It may not, if I take the advice of a certain Pulitzer short-lister, appear in the actual book at all. One of the obvious characteristics about a work in progress is, it is not yet stable or set. The changes that may come in the book are likely to be a surprise and take unexpected turns, as this story has done, from the beginning.

The evolution of I Should Love You Less is a complicated one. There are a few readers who are interested in this sort of thing, so let me tell you, briefly, about how this novel came together.

I wrote a story, about a pastor’s wife, picking strawberries in one of those “pick your own” fields you’ll find in Indiana and the mid-west. I called that story, Of Strawberries and Salvation, and I started with a more Southern Gothic, Flannery O’Connor vibe, though the story lost most of that in revision. Not long after, I wrote a story about a woman who follows a homeless man from the soup kitchen where she volunteers to the abandoned building where he lives. Shortly after, I had the start of a story about a woman, praying in a Catholic church, who unintentionally stops a teenage from stealing the Blessed Sacrament and is mistaken for the Virgin Mary.

During revision, I figured out those three stories were about the same woman, despite the small, inconvenient fact that she had a different names and looked different in each story. Margaret Meyer’s story was presenting itself to me, and once I realized it, once I started to look for it, the larger world of her life came in wave after wave of writing.

This story came later, based on an answer to a reading comprehension question in a book we used at the Oxford Learning Center in Carmel, Indiana, where I was working. Again, I wrote a story, not intending it to be part of Margaret’s world, but, soon, I realized it was.

If you missed any of the other stories I have had published (online and in print) you can always find links and copies at the “My Portfolio” page on my website. You can find my stories Dudley’s Sacrifice, Solomon’s Ditch, Cop-Cop Cop, and Things He Wasn’t Supposed to Do.

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