Many thanks to editor Jason Ramsey, for selecting “Fantastic Fabrics” for the inaugural issue of Barren Magazine. Congratulations and best wishes on the new venture! I’m pleased to be in there with my buddy Paul Beckman and so many other wonderful poets and writers.
“Fantastic Fabrics,” as a story, has been kicking around for some time. I think of how the mind works, how reading can put us in different worlds and then return us to the real world changed, holding new ideas and perspectives. A book can be Wallace Steven’s “jar in Tennessee,” which changes a whole mental landscape. I toyed with all those ideas during a Kathy Fish Fast Flash(c) Workshop, but something was still missing. I wasn’t satisfied.
What’s the old Buddhist riddle? While looking at a flag blowing in the wind, the question is: is it the wind that moves or the flag that moves? The answer being neither. It is the mind that moves. It is our perceptions that change.
So, I’ve tried and failed to read some Joyce texts myself; I may not be a completer, but I always did make it far enough to go off on my own mental tangents, and here is a character who is stuck and reading and bored, but the page becomes her portal to a changed perspective. I can relate.
Then, being a workshop grazer, I found what was missing in the tale, thanks to editor Patrick Ryan at One-Story, who has this wonderful lesson he calls “The Zig-Zag Option.” I found the missing element. I had a woman in her 20s, the setting of a park bench where a book is being read, and the conflict of questioning belief in a higher power. My zig-zag, a little everyday thing to help a character change directions, was someone coughing nearby to break her reverie.
And that’s a flash. She enters the story unsure of some things, but very close to the end she changes and goes in a new direction. Nothing is unexpected, but everything changes. I have an alternate ending, the word “Hello” instead of “Hola,” but I like them both and am happy either way.
I hope that you enjoy meeting Milena, and thinking with her about James Joyce, and thinking brighter days may be ahead. Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I hope you enjoy “Fantastic Fabrics.”
Photo (c) 2017 A.E. Weisgerber, is of a stairway in the Corrib House, a beautiful bed and breakfast inn in Galway City, Ireland.