There are stories that make more sense when the storyteller begins at the end.
I wish Fellow Writer can find a way to separate the character from the author, enough to see what others are trying to say about the tale. And while Fellow Writer figures that out, I’ll continue grinning at the flattering insult. Yep, my Wicked Luvs, there are times when ignorance works in mysterious ways.
This particular tale ended with Fellow Writer attempting to insult me by comparing some of my work to Jamaica Kincaid’s. If you’ve read Kincaid’s fiction, you are probably scratching your head between chuckles, for we both know the mentioned author has written pretty impressive work. And for those who haven’t had the pleasure, I’ll quote Isobel Armstrong’s description of the Kincaid’s style:
“Kincaid writes in a rather curt style. It’s somewhat clipped and has an edge of sarcasm to it all the time: that watchful, observant precision… She is critical of everything. Although very corroding, the criticism is also very funny and witty.”
Okay… now that we are on the same page—you wondering how “watchful, observant precision” and “funny and witty” can sound discourteous to anyone’s ear, and me grinning like a lunatic because being insulted has never felt this good—I’ll share the bit that started it all.
A character, sitting in an office waiting room, is wearing six-inch heels and is trying to find the best way to fix her skirt and thigh-highs so that her garter belt will show just right. She describes herself as able to use her attributes to get whatever she wants from men. Some of the story’s details were hilarious—the way the girl walks, speaks, her mannerism… unquestionably sidesplitting. The character is struggling because her orthodox religious beliefs get on the way of her wanting to trade sex for money.
Someone compared the story to other types of writing, which many people consider trash. Fellow Writer was outraged. I wasn’t happy with the comment, either, but I knew where the commenter was coming from. I tried to use my turn to illustrate what I believed the first person meant.
I said that the character’s description made her look like a hooker. Fellow Writer got upset again because she did not intend for the girl to be a sex worker. I suggested that Fellow Writer should develop the character in a way that showed the reader exactly who the character was, under her clothes.
Things got out of control. People got loud. I walked over to the instructor because I believe on nipping that kind of trash in the bud. Fellow Writer screamed and shook fingers at people. I shook my head, glared and wondered how things had reached such ridiculous levels of insanity. Finally, we left, but the blood was still hot.
Two days later, I felt bad about Fellow Writer. I send an email saying writers need tough skins and that when someone attacks our style, we should use that rage to fuel our muse. I even attached “Sexy, Dark and Bloody” so Fellow Writer could see that I had been there, too. I also offered to help, if my assistance was wanted.
My assistance was not wanted. I was called “arrogant”, and asked how would I like it, if I was told that my “story was kind of cliché like Jamaica Kincaid?” I would like it very much, thanks. I thought. No, I didn’t reply with those words. I responded, “No one can learn with someone else’s head or see through another’s eyes. You are right, [Insert Fellow Writer’s real name here]; you already have the tools that will take you exactly where you want to go.”
Perhaps a little clipped, curt, and sarcastic, but that doesn’t make it untrue.
|“Girl” is my favorite
of Jamaica Kincaid’s short works. You can find the full text at|
About Jamaica, the site where I borrowed this picture from.