Sunday, July 24, 2011

Choosing a home for my short stories.

    As a writer and a  reader of short stories I'm always on the hunt for literary journals that I like. Every time I choose a literary journal, I make sure that their purpose resonates with mine. I have a preference for thought-provoking stories and memorable characters that leave me thinking long after I've finished reading them. I  even find myself longing to talk  with somebody about it because there is so much to discuss.
    I love stories when I  can connect with the characters in some way, when the theme is meaningful to me. (Not connecting with a story means I am not the right audience for it. That's all).
     I also tend to like characters who push boundaries, and I like them even more if they are touched by the world they live in . In other words, social and political matters add to it. Reading literature is not about living in a vacuum, so I appreciate stories that place the character in a specific social and cultural situation.
     Reading a good story is like going on a journey or visiting a city. I am eager to explore every corner, park, and secret. I don't want to be treated like an ordinary tourist. I'd rather become a resident during my short stay and be in the character's shoes.
    The best stories to me are the ones that carry me away not just to a certain emotional situation, but also to a specific location that becomes so vivid and colorful in my mind that it ends up leaving an imprint. Two days ago, for example, I read "Ice" by Lily Tuck. The story is about a married couple who takes a trip to Antarctica. It became so real to me that I could think of nothing but icebergs and ships; a nice relief to the heat wave we are going through, by the way.
     Let me know about your stories- or trips. Where have they been taking you lately?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An endless love affair.

        I have to admit it. I have a love affair with words. I get easily enchanted by the way some of them sound, and I enjoy learning their different meanings. Choosing the right words is a pleasure, one of the many goals I try to accomplish whenever I write something. Words are the fascinating "bricks" of the buildings-stories- we build. They are like the colors of an artist's palette. They need to be chosen carefully, strung into the thread of sentences that will accomplish a rhythm and a meaning.
         Every time I find a word I am not familiar with, I look it up in the dictionary. I tend to do this even with words I do know, when I suspect they have a meaning I'm not aware of. Then I jot them down and even create a sentence in my  mind in order to apply the new word. I keep the lists of new words and then I read them carefully again a few days later. It is like creating a "bank account of words". I know they will come back to me when I am writing. Sometimes I even find myself saying, "This is just the word I needed yesterday when I was writing that scene."
        I will give you an example of words that have different meanings I did not know about.
You may know that the word "maul" as a verb means " to beat, bruise, to handle roughly." But it also means "to strongly criticize something, especially a new book, play, etc." It also means " to touch someone in a rough sexual way which they think is unpleasant." The word "throe" means "pang, spasm", but it also means "a hard or painful struggle." To chide is "to speak out in angry or displeased rebuke". It also means, as a transitive verb, "to reproach in a mild and constructive manner."
         I can't get enough of them. Learning new words is an ongoing challenge that will die the day my own life comes to an end.
         What's your relationship with words like?