Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Entry # 172 - "Building A House?"

A Story & A House & A Cat - Photo: Jan Bowman
So How Is A House Like A Story?    In Alice Munro’s Introduction to her Selected Stories, she says, “a story is not like a road to follow; it’s more like a house.”  She says “you go inside stories and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like, discovering how the rooms, windows, and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows.”  She says that readers and writers can return to the house or story and always find more than they saw last time. In fact, she says that she doesn’t necessary start writing or reading a story from beginning to end. She often starts anywhere and might read or write a story either backward or forward to see the full experience from different angles.

And while this might sound odd to some readers and writers, I understand this search for perspective.  I had an “Aha” moment when I first read this. I don’t usually start a story and work chronologically, whether I’m reading or writing one. And I often reread a story. A good story gets better - like an interesting house - every time you visit it. I firmly believe a story deserves, even requires, multiple reading to obtain its richness.  I am interested, not only in what happened, but also how it happened.
Photo - Jan Bowman - 2013 - "Summer Garden"

Munro says a house (like a story) has a “sturdy sense of itself, of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you. To deliver a story like that, one that is durable and freestanding, is what I’m always hoping for.”    

That seems to me to be a worthy goal whether you are a reader or writer or one who must of necessity do both in order to live well.
Cat Cluttered Office 2013 - Jan Bowman
About Jan Bowman

Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, a Pen/O’Henry award and a recent story was a finalist in the 2013 Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at www.janbowmanwriter.com or

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