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Monday, January 11, 2016

Takes Two to Tango

We found ourselves with no Internet the last couple of days of 2015 and a better part of the first week of this year. At first, I was unhappy that I’d miss so much, but I readjusted to a Luddite existence quickly.

On the one hand, I missed the instant access I have to my friends across the globe (and I mean actual friends with whom I have ongoing relationships). On the other hand, there was an easy-going, peaceful aura about everything.

We lost the ability to stream and were suddenly stuck with bad TV we'd seen eons ago!—but even this was a source of giddiness and we laughed a lot.

I took the opportunity to do a little reading but I did no writing. I also did not edit or reread any of the stories going into the next collection, He Done Her Wrong. I was in a fairly festive mood and did not want to give any more thought to infidelities or its aftermath.

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In the next couple of weeks, I will return to the beat and have an interview to set up that will give me unprecedented access to the aftermath of an affair by a willing participant (willing to become part of my research, I mean).

Her first-hand experiences will serve as lynchpins to a story I wanted to write. The story itself may not belong in the next volume, but I am interested in a different perspective and it suggests not only this but a series of stories with a skewed perspective.

Is skewed the word I necessarily mean, though?

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It worries me, suddenly, whether I have been properly neutral in my portrayals or if I have allowed judgement to affect the storytelling. Judgement changes it. Judging makes it propaganda and that was never the point.

That some of the stories should have a distinct focus is one thing, but to participate in moral favoritism is just boring, and a little dangerous. It’s also uninspired and obnoxious. Storytelling should be more flexible or else it’ll miss the poetry of a moment.

Judgement belongs to (and rests with) the reader and, you could try to influence her, but if you use a sledge hammer to drive a point that matters to you because you feel it is the ultimate truth, then you need to be a preacher not a storyteller.

Then again, if you choose to preach, then you must live the word or forever be a hypocrite.

I am perfectly happy with stories that have no moral center and no message. I am happy to tell a story simply because there might be an instant that captures pure magic--even if there is no transformation beyond capturing the instant and letting it die in the tongue, the mind’s eye, or your gut.

Coming up, there might be a story or two where the protagonist is the one who perpetuates the infidelity and survives the moment to tell their story—whether defiantly or in penance. I’d like to affect the push/pull of a good tango but with words, that’s the skewed delivery of words I am chasing in my head. After all, it does take two to tango!

That’s the plan, anyway. What are your reading/writing plans for the New Year?

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