Humans & other beings: My story, “A History of Burning” is now available in the Summer 2018 issue of Midwestern Gothic. This is a dream pub for realsies. Much like my story, “Must Believe in Ghost” and its appearance in The Normal School, I could hardly imagine a more fitting place for this story than Midwestern Gothic.
This is the story that won the 2015 Tom Williams Prize in Fiction at the end of my MFA. Judge Kevin Brockmeier admired this story for “its energy, its color, its empathy, and most of all, because nearly every sentence is perfectly tuned to its own intentions.” Despite rejecting it, GC Waldrep praised this story for its “bravura opening” and for “making a wily virtue of telling rather than showing.” Tom Payne said, “Its narrative voice gets me, sailing far above this darkest blue of blue collar worlds with a sharp, historical intelligence.”
For me, this story was written in a single weekend, mostly out of a writer’s block of frustration. It’s also one of the most autobiographical of my stories. About 80% of what’s in this story are true events filtered through the lives of the characters on the page.
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Shadow CV: This story was rejected 38 times before it found its home.
My story “Must Believe in Ghost” which appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Normal School has arrived on their website. Find out how exactly “human consciousness is a long, sadly ignored, fundamental force in the calculations of quantum mechanics” or see how “even the cobwebs were old, as if the spiders in the house had long run out of insects to eat and had absconded to a more plentiful promised land” and find out what happens when an out-of-work journalist tries not to monetize someone else’s grief.
I’m a model agnostic of the Copenhagen Interpretation when it comes to most things. But when people I care about have passed, both in my life and merely those few public figures who influence me, there is one pleasant model in which I choose to indulge.
I choose to believe in a great nothing from which we come and to which we return. It stands outside of manifest creation; it is timeless and formless; a pool of pure potential from which our souls emanate and to which our souls return after our journey to Earth. These formalities of actually happening we call our lives.
Like the hero’s journey, the divine bit of us must manifest in a body, go out into the dark unknown of life, learn our lessons, capture the great boon, and return these gifts back to the nothing from which we came.
“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
~ Oliver Sacks
When those I love must leave, I prefer to think of them as having returned home. And all of their warmth and love and intelligence and all the good they represented to me in this life, all of that has been reunited with the greatness that spawns the world.
So when people like Oliver Sacks pass on, I get to believe that his genius is hereon written into the fabric of the universe, that everything that comes will have the DNA of his soul woven through it.
It’s only a single model of the universe and the place of our lives in it, but it’s a comforting one that allows me to see everyone who has been lost to continue living.