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Altimexis

(Wibby's) Tortured Soul

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Okay, I am hesitant to enter this fascinating discussion because I am writing under my actual name here. Those who have read "Entre Nous" have an idea of some of my perspectives on this question. What I find bizarre with this discussion is the beating around the bush. For me the real question is that of the definition of predator - who is the "real" predator and who is being played to "play out" a role - for whatever purpose? This is a popular theme these days in international literature and art photography, and further exploration is needed. I am amused by the comments regarding the "tortured" writer ... and paedophilia. Is that the extent of this "literary piece" (granted, W. pushes the conventional "story" structure - which I encourage)? Not for me, at least. I see the question of predator becoming victim and victim becoming predator in a co-dependency relationship as the primary theme. I applaud W. for having the creative courage to present this on this website, and Dude for permitting it.

You could safely drop the disclaimer W. No one will mistake you for Nabokov here.

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You could safely drop the disclaimer W. No one will mistake you for Nabokov here.

The number of emails and PM's I received mistaking me for my character were many. The ratio was enough I had to say something.

It's not that I exactly care what my readers think, but when people see you as someone like this character, they make certain assumptions about your character. And from that they tend to send you emails that contain things one might not prefer to discuss.

I don't want to be the one to judge, and nobody's received an outright flame from me. But I am who I am. The characters are who they are. And that is my public statement on that.

A few people have written me long pieces, and they REALLY get this piece. Lots of people get it on various levels but I was surprised anyone GOT it the way I intended it. A few people did and I didn't have to explain it.

And except for a very tiny group of people, nobody's disliked the story itself: just the message.

I have lots more to say, too, and if interest remains, I will continue to add a bit every day or three.

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How much truth is there to this tale? It doesn't matter to me. It's the message it sends to everyone. Not everything is roses. As for the alleged missing end, that would be for the reader to determine. It's obvious that the lead character is fighting demons and is doing his best to make things right. What happens next? Sort it out.

This is one Luggies opinion. Take it or leave it.

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What happens next? Sort it out.
The only thing missing is the final sentence. It's two words. Don't ask 'cause I won't say.

A couple of dozen Aardvarks with typewriters should be able to sort it out. ;)

:icon_twisted:

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The answer here is simple, at least for me: this isn't a short story...it simply doesn't meet the criteria. But, it's a brilliant character study and essay on a moral dilemma. Nice work, Wibby!

I believe it DOES meet the definition of a short story but that's irrelevant. I must pick at that nit, though.

But, as to your second point: everything I write is a character study. I said that somewhere in this thread, I think. It's all about the characters. I try to write characters that are so real, you'll think they are real. Characters you care about. That's what generates mail in my most of my other stories: people say a character spoke to them, or they understood the character (or vice versa).

I could just write a story, but I don't want to. I probably won't stay writing on this new path long, but instead find another path nobody's foreseen. I loved HT30 and I had fun. I might try a tangent on that path. This one, I'm done with: too much emotional stress writing it, making it just so, and then dealing with the aftermath (afterbirth?)

You'll probably see some really deep, dark psychological tale one day. Something that makes HT30 look like a Dr Seuss book. I've also got some other ideas. I just have to decide I want to write. Right now, I don't. My mind is elsewhere.

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I believe it DOES meet the definition of a short story but that's irrelevant. I must pick at that nit, though.

But, as to your second point: everything I write is a character study. I said that somewhere in this thread, I think. It's all about the characters. I try to write characters that are so real, you'll think they are real. Characters you care about. That's what generates mail in my most of my other stories: people say a character spoke to them, or they understood the character (or vice versa).

I could just write a story, but I don't want to. I probably won't stay writing on this new path long, but instead find another path nobody's foreseen. I loved HT30 and I had fun. I might try a tangent on that path. This one, I'm done with: too much emotional stress writing it, making it just so, and then dealing with the aftermath (afterbirth?)

You'll probably see some really deep, dark psychological tale one day. Something that makes HT30 look like a Dr Seuss book. I've also got some other ideas. I just have to decide I want to write. Right now, I don't. My mind is elsewhere.

Okay.

cheers!

aj

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I've been following this thread and am amazed that wibby has to defend his style from so many other authors. I'm a reader, not a writer, but have always thought it was the author's prerogative to define his work. So many seem to have fallen into the Hollywood definition of entertainment. Everything must be wrapped in a neat little box and everything explained for the mindless viewer or reader in thirty or sixty minutes (less commercial time) or in one hundred twenty minutes for a feature film.

Codey once told me that an author's only responsibilities to his readers are, to entertain, to make them think and to stimulate their imaginations. I believe wibby's story meets these three criteria. It holds your attention, so must be entertaining. From some of the comments, I think we all have to agree, it's definitely made people think. If the ending doesn't satisfy you, as a reader, then you can use your imagination to complete the story in any way you want.

If authors are to be held to strict rules, we'd be limiting creativity and lose the opportunity to ever see innovative new stories and styles. It's fine to not like an authors work but wrong to try to force that author to climb into that same little box of rules that you are comfortable with.

Just my opinion as a sometimes reader.

Tim

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If the ending doesn't satisfy you, as a reader, then you can use your imagination to complete the story in any way you want.

I don't mean to prolong this, but I wanted to clarify my remarks.

A reader should not have to "complete" the story. It's the writers' job to do this in a way that's satisfying and logical. To me, that's what structure is all about.

I cited earlier several famous, classic short stories that have endings that make the reader wonder what happened next. E.E. Cummings (famously) did quite a few, as did the great Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft; Frank Stockton's classic "Lady or the Tiger" is brilliant in its own way. But these short stories built up to a climax and stopped, sometimes right on the edge of the cliff. The monster's on the other side of the door, and the narrator begins to scream as the handle turns... and it ends. That works fine for me, because you know exactly what the point is.

Those worked as short stories, even without a definite "X or Y" ending. I'm not asking for nice, neat, definite endings; I'm looking for a natural, dramatic progression that goes from point A to point B, which is what a short story usually does. (There are always exceptions, and I concede there are avant garde experiments that go in completely unexpected directions. But those aren't satisfying to me, either, at least not in a conventional way.)

I felt like Wibby's story avoided a real ending, for reasons only he knows. I like WBMS personally very much, and have always enjoyed our conversations in the past (private and public), and I think he's capable of very good writing. I just felt this one fell short. It's only my opinion, and everyone is free to disagree. I would be less than honest if I said otherwise.

Note that I did say I liked the story up to that point, and I think Wibby is a talented guy. This is not an attack by any means, and I'm saying the same thing I would say about any similar story that I felt needed a more obvious point. But I'm not asking for a "Hollywood ending," nor am I asking for things to be predictable, simple, and cut & dried. I love surprises in fiction, but that doesn't mean just stopping the story at a certain point will work as an ending.

If Wibby achieved what he says he wanted to do, more power to him. I'm glad people are talking about the story, and I sincerely hope he gets many more readers.

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Once again, I'm just going to thank Tim for his comments. At the risk of offending some people I like, on THIS story specifically, his comments count more than the rest. His support is keeping me sane*.

* This is a relative term and in no way makes any sort of claim that I was sane before :)

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Tim seems to me to have fairly nailed the argument for author rights to determine the form and content of their works.

As for Wibby's story, I have to comment (without accusation against Pecman, whose opinions are always valued, welcome and interesting, or anyone else,) that for me, Tortured Soul has a satisfying conclusion, both in terms of form and content.

There is little that can be gained from revealing in specific detail, why I find it so complete, so poignant in its resolution that a truth of the human condition is contained in that suspension of the ending; and furthermore is the very satisfying, valid reason for the story's existence. Yet I know that sometimes, such conclusions, are like a joke; not everyone gets it straight away; some not at all. Just like life itself.

There is much writing by truly great authors who have toiled to reveal humanity's perceptions and experiences. Doing this with anything like the truthfulness and objectivity that Wibby has done is rare because Tortured Soul deals directly with a current, cultural taboo. This kind of topical discussion is usually reserved for the stage.

Those who are disturbed by how they perceive the subject matter should particularly note that Wibby achieved this through an ordinary monologue, a soliloquy of self-examination by a character and not as an autobiography, and this points to the extraordinary artistic merit in the writing.

I would ask only that we do not judge this story by standards that do not apply to it. This writing is quite out of the box, wonderful in its daring and even a source of richness for us to consider for as long as we dare to wonder; dare to to ponder the human condition.

I would have no hesitation in adapting it for stage presentation as a complete dramatic vehicle for a one man show. I can assure it would be met with considerable acclaim, even if it were read aloud, just as it is. (Of course we men of the theatre like to interpret for the stage, but I doubt Wibby would be opposed to that so long as his words remained intact.)

If Wibby had chosen to write it in blank verse, I think he would have been hailed as the new Shakespeare.

As it stands, my opinion is that it is as complete a work of writing as you will find.

That it is worthy of discussion seems to be unanimous.

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I don't mean to prolong this, but I wanted to clarify my remarks.

A reader should not have to "complete" the story. It's the writers' job to do this in a way that's satisfying and logical. To me, that's what structure is all about.

A few other short story authors who often leave the ending up to the imagination of their readers are Flannery O'Connor, ZZ Packer, and Andre Dubus. Many of their short stories might not meet Tim's criterial of an ending "that's satisfying and logical."

A classic short story that ends leaving much to the reader's imagination is William Faulkner's A Rose For Emily. I read this story for the first time in the 7th grade, and it blew me away. I think this was a turning point, because it was after reading it that I decided I wanted to write. I took creative writing in the 8th grade and each year in high school until in my senior year they told me no more creative writing classes because I'd taken too many variants of that course already. :stare:

Colin :icon_geek:

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...I took creative writing in the 8th grade and each year in high school until in my senior year they told me no more creative writing classes because I'd taken too many variants of that course already. :stare:

Colin :icon_geek:

Colin, I'm not good enough or accomplished enough to be giving you advice, but I've learned one thing from all the people here, some I agree with and some I just don't. Your writing is you! Period. There are many rules that are bantered back and forth about how to write, and I'm sure that those classes taught you all of them. But it, in my case I guess, comes down to passion. I'm still telling myself this all the time...to just write!

You're good, and I want to see more of it. Forget the classes. Just keep writing. Your heart comes through then, and that's what makes story.

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A classic short story that ends leaving much to the reader's imagination is William Faulkner's A Rose For Emily.

Terrific story. But I'd point out it does have an ending, a very memorable one: the title character covered up a murder for 40 years, one that's only discovered after her own death. It's a weird story, one that I'd say Hollywood borrowed in films like Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte (which is uncannily similar). Rose is one often cited as having a slightly blurry point of view, since it's unclear who exactly is telling the story. But it's a classic, no question.

I think this was a turning point, because it was after reading it that I decided I wanted to write. I took creative writing in the 8th grade and each year in high school until in my senior year they told me no more creative writing classes because I'd taken too many variants of that course already.

I once took an Advanced English Lit class in my first semester in college -- somehow, I had hoodwinked them into letting me skip past the first two years' worth of classes, so I was 17 years old, shoved in a classroom with juniors -- and I remember once being given some weird, existential novel to read, I think from Saul Bellow. I couldn't make head or tail of it, so I just jumped in and made observations the night before, scribbled down some notes and turned it in as an essay.

The teacher handed it back to me the next day and gave me a B-, along with a note that said, "it's obvious to me that you didn't really read this book, but you faked it so well, you really should think about becoming a writer." I was floored, not only that she had seen through my subterfuge, but also that she thought I had even a shred of talent. So it was like a simultaneous insult and a compliment.

I never learned a thing from the couple of creative writing classes I took, but I did learn the basics of being a reporter in several journalism classes, and a little about advertising in some ad writing classes. For fiction, my most valuable lessons were picked from the references I gave in my "Gay Writing Tips" piece. Particularly in the case of The First Five Pages, the light went on for me, and I said out loud -- "ah, that's how this works." Suddenly, it all made sense. (Another turning point was How to Write a Damn Good Novel, which has some terrific ideas.)

At the same time, I concede that there are some really great writers that break the rules all the time. For example: noted award-winning gay author John Rechy has frequently advised new writers to "ignore all the rules," even the classic "show, don't tell." His stuff is really intense, much more bleak and downbeat than anything I normally like to read, but nonetheless very well done. Classic books like City of Night are so cutting-edge, you'd never know it was written in 1963. Rechy is an author I usually cite as an example of gay fiction that's more about sex than anything else, but it's so visceral and intense, it grabs you by the throat and makes you want to read it. Really talented guy.

I'd argue that Rechy's stuff works because he learned all the rules, then figured out how to break them in an entertaining way. (He has essays on the rules at this link.) Rechy's stories definitely stick with you days, even weeks after you read them.

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Colin, I'm not good enough or accomplished enough to be giving you advice, but I've learned one thing from all the people here, some I agree with and some I just don't. Your writing is you! Period. There are many rules that are bantered back and forth about how to write, and I'm sure that those classes taught you all of them. But it, in my case I guess, comes down to passion. I'm still telling myself this all the time...to just write!

You're good, and I want to see more of it. Forget the classes. Just keep writing. Your heart comes through then, and that's what makes story.

Thanks for your comments, Richard. I think I learn about the craft of writing from the courses I've taken in intermediate and high school, community college, and university. I love taking these classes because it forces me to (lets me) write in a school environment (I'm a computer science major) that doesn't leave me with as much free time to do so as I want (and need). They also force me to read short stories and develop my ability to analyze and write my responses about them. I read other students' stories, and decide what I like and what I'm critical about them as well. I love listening to other's comments in class and responding to them, especially their comments about what I write. I also love to read books on writing by published authors, like of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, my copy of which is almost always with me and that I never tire of rereading. So I don't think I'll ever forget my writing classes. They are part of my approach to writing, and they encourage me to want to write and to write more often and to always work to improve my writing. I'd love to be a writer like my mom, but I'll always remember what she told me: "Colin, it's hard to make a living from writing. There are many times more unsuccessful writers than unsuccessful restaurants in the world. Write when you can, but don't quit your day job." :stare:

Colin :icon_geek:

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...I also love to read books on writing by published authors, like of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, my copy of which is almost always with me...

Colin :icon_geek:

I had not heard of or seen this book before. I checked Amazon and read the first few pages that they previewed, and it told me of the diabolical life I'm setting myself up for. It talked of the pain and agony of writing, of the wretchedness of trying to tell the truth. I had to have it. Amazon is now winging my 'Birds' to me as I speak.

Thank you for the recommendation.

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It's a good book. You'll like it, Richard. Among other things, it emphasizes, over and over, if you wish to call yourself a writer, one thing you must do is develop the discipline to write everyday. Every day. Whether you want to or not. She says that discipline will really help your writing.

C

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...one thing you must do is develop the discipline to write everyday. Every day. Whether you want to or not. She says that discipline will really help your writing.

C

Actually, I've heard that since I was about 2. I'm working on it, albeit slowly, but very methodically. One thing at a time. I'm not doing too bad actually. I've just about mastered getting out of bed in the morning. :icon_geek:

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It's a good book. You'll like it, Richard. Among other things, it emphasizes, over and over, if you wish to call yourself a writer, one thing you must do is develop the discipline to write everyday. Every day. Whether you want to or not. She says that discipline will really help your writing.

C

Ah! Discipline :icon_geek:

:spank:

:stare:

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