[ a s t o r y a b o u t s t o r i e s ]
(image via threesixfive.co.za)
I'm really happy to announce that my short story, "A Brief Intimacy" is published in The Good Men Project
as part of their Weekend Fiction series. Thank you to Matthew Salesses for giving the story a good home.
This story holds a special place in my heart, because it one that showed me the way things can come together, even after years, if you just trust your instinct and let things go.
The story is a story within a story within a story. I did not know until I got there, that this story was one where I wanted to question and touch upon how truth and fiction blur, and the ways in which our own lives intrude upon our fiction and creations. Central to the story, when I was finished, was this question of what was real and what wasn't. This is what the story was about, even if I didn't set out to do that.
The story started with a single line that I scribbled in the middle of the night in a dark hotel room. I was in Tianjin with my father. He was asleep. I couldn't fall asleep, and the line, "It was a brief intimacy" popped into my head, so I grabbed the nearest piece of paper and pen and wrote it down. The next two lines -- the ones that begin this story -- also came, so I wrote those down too. I couldn't even see my own handwriting, if what I was writing was even legible.
Months later, I found the scrap of paper among my things, and I thought, What the heck? I sat down and started writing.
There is a complicated back story to how this story came together, that I'm not sure I should reveal, lest the magic disappear, so let's just say that there is a part of this story that is very much based upon my own life, and another part that came from a story I wrote years prior, one that were unsuccessful. As I was writing this story, I began to get a character from my life confused with the character in this story who was getting confused with the character in this other story I had written so long ago. There were a bunch of coincidences that led me to this failed story, though, and I learned my first lesson -- that even the things that you think you've thrown away might come back to have a place again.
There are truths and untruths scattered throughout the story, like any story, but here was a story where I hoped the readers would pick and wonder and for a moment perhaps wonder who the narrator of the story really is. I hoped they would re-read the story and find it bending in on itself, and ask themselves where the narrator's true story lay, and then perhaps that they would take it one step further, and ask themselves who the narrator is, if it could possibly be me, and then wonder what parts of the story are true in our version of reality.
I think this is what we naturally do, when we read a story that has a protagonist whose life is close to that of the author -- but I hoped in this case, we would be made to realize that this is what happens with stories -- that we fold our lives' narratives into our stories, and that as readers, we sometimes obsess over what is "true."
The story was written in one sitting. I made several editorial changes, but very few major revisions. Most of it came out easily, and I think it goes to show that things can brew inside of you for a time, and then they come out nearly fully formed. For me, part of this story was one I had to live through, and another was one that had been sitting inside me for nearly six years. The way these two worlds -- the one I had created and the one I had lived -- collided, was in an extremely unexpected way.
It is the only story I have written of its kind. Its a love story, of sorts, though I never considered it that. To me, it has always been a story about stories.