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The Universe continues to push me towards Joyce Carol Oates. Tonight I picked up Alice LaPlante’s book, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story, and found her name scattered throughout. I read every section in which she was mentioned, and was particularly drawn to this quote which LaPlante included:

I’ve never thought of writing as the mere arrangement of words on the page but as the attempted embodiment of a vision: a complex of emotions, raw experience

I then read the one short story of Oates’ featured in the book: “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?” originally published in 1966 in Epoch Magazine. Creepy and intense…a cautionary tale to young girls…though perhaps not against what it seems at first read.

I think Oates’ quote above resonated so strongly with me because I have been thinking about short stories a lot of late…especially with the upcoming competitions and my New Year’s resolution…and that is often how I feel about them. Novels are different…novels I plan out in elaborate diagrams on my whiteboard and little scenes on index cards…with novels I need a map. But short stories I feel and envision. I don’t craft them…they come to me. Many are based on dreams, which speaks to their unconscious origins and often explains the uncanny connections that happen without any intention or help from me. I love writing both short stories and novels, for different reasons. With novels I feel active…like I’m on an adventure, map in hand, cutting through brush, working hard to find the treasure. With short stories, I’m still and quiet, in a trance, awaking to find with surprise a written account of my vision.