I’ve been communicating via email with Seán Virgo, my editor for What Can’t Be Undone, as we work our way through the process of fine-tuning the stories in this collection prior to publication by Thistledown Press in spring 2015.
One of the rewarding details of this process is how acute a reader Seán is, and how respectful of my process as a writer. “Loving and fierce” is what he promised me he’d be as an editor, and he is. No punches pulled, no hidden clichés left to fester.
So I’m learning that sometimes I learn the story as I set it on the page. All that backstory and flashback is sometimes just for my benefit, and if it slows the story on the page, it’s time to exorcise it.
And this: trust your reader! Right, don’t spoonfeed those smart folks.
Another cool result is how clearly I see the emerging common threads and themes in these stories. What are they, you ask? You’ll have to wait just a few more months. It makes me wonder, though. What writers are drawn to set down on paper, over and over, in different forms. What images and ideas haunt us.
Partway through the process, I received an email from a friend. As I read it, I found myself thinking, “Oh, there’s the start of a new story!” Ha. Everything is grist for a story, an essay, a poem. Art, imitating life. Or is it the other way around? Can’t tell sometimes…