Raymond Carver, one of my favorite short story authors once described himself and his writing as being “inclined toward brevity and intensity”.

This is the approach I take when writing short stories also. Some, I don’t know who, call the style “Dirty Realism”, and I don’t know if many authors labeled as dirty realist care for this term anymore than Korn likes being branded “Nu Metal” or Greta Van Fleet enjoy all the recognition of sounding too much like Led Zeppelin, but at the same time, to basically start a new genre in music or to be compared to one of the greatest rock bands in history, or being labeled as a dirty realist writer, would be fine by me.

I’ve always enjoyed reading, by the time I was 10 had read over 300 books, from Tolstoy, to the Warren Commission, and if you don’t believe me, I actually won an award for reading, (ha that was a unique experience being called up to the podium in an awards ceremony in elementary school and given a plaque with the words “A day without reading is a day without sunshine”). I did not know the school librarians kept up with this statistic.

I don’t necessarily think about genres when I’m writing. I write what I see and what I have experienced, and what I feel in my heart. When writing poetry, I feel I had an amazing teacher in Dylan Thomas. The first time I read his poem “If I were tickled by the rub of love” I was mesmerized, because I had no damned clue what he was talking about. But that one poem led me on a journey, where I learned terms like syllabic and pentameters and assonance and consonance, and it led me to read his biography, where he was quoted:

I am a painstaking, conscientious, involved, and devious craftsman in words, however unsuccessful the result so often appears, and to whatever wrong uses I may apply my technical paraphernalia. I use everything and anything to make my poems work and move in the direction I want them to: old tricks, new tricks, puns, portmanteau-words, paradox, allusion, paronomasia, paragram, catachresis, slang, assonantal rhymes, vowel rhymes, [and] sprung rhythm. Every device there is in language is there to be used if you will (qtd.in McKay 376)” You can read my essay on this poem here: http://d21c.com/Chad_Ard/CMA/iiwtbtrul.html

Writing is a journey, not just one where you find a book you love, but when you find yourself wanting to learn more about the craft, and the language, and the author, and you find yourself writing, and re-reading, and editing, and editing more, and well you feel like you’re writing Absalom, Absalom, but you keep having to remind yourself you’re not Faulkner, and you can’t go a page and half without completing one sentence, so I start writing in the style of Faulkner’s “stream of conscientiousness” with a hundred pages and narrowing it down to five. And you re-read your poems over and over, in your head, and out loud, which can be annoying if you if you live in an apartment with thin walls, till you know each line, each word, and the same is for my short stories, until you sometimes get sick of them. And this is where some writers probably give up, but this is where you have to take the stand and remember it isn’t about getting it right, it’s about getting it written. Let it sit, if you have too, but come back. Don’t leave it just sitting there, you are the one giving the story life, and that means something.

In the second foreword of three forewords in Stephen King’s On Writing: A memoir of the craft, he explains: “fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do—not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad” (11). King goes on to say:

When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done you have to step back and look at the forest…Your job during or just after the first draft is to decide what something or something’s yours is about (201).

So, I follow my heart, and I’m so fortunate to have a wife who supports me, and good friends and fellow writers who encourage me, and then the author’s of books I’ve read from Carver, Langston Hughes, Cullen, Fitzgerald, Sinclair, and so many countless others on social media, like me, promoting their published works, to keep writing. I have so much love and respect for all of you on Twitter, and Facebook, and other social media sites, because I know the struggle, and the want to give your characters life comes from someplace within, that cannot be easily dismissed or just put on a shelf to collect dust.

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