clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Friday, May 30, 2014


At left, a chicken coop as photographed by a member of the Farm Security Administration. If you haven't looked at the photographs taken in the Depression by members of this federal arm, you are missing out.

I need to make some progress on this draft revision of the novel this weekend so I am of course thinking of chickens in a short story. An upbeat sort of chipper-happy writer would compose a blog post on "cross pollination" or the "contagion of the creative muse."

I'm going to admit instead to screwing off while otherwise on duty. ( SOWOOD ).

I've written several stories about chickens.

One of my earliest mystery efforts involves a rural barter society, the theft of a chicken, and the tinker who is pressed into duty as the reluctant detective. I could never decide if it was a post-apocalyptic chicken mystery or a medieval morality play cast in secular clothes. I first wrote the story in the summer before my freshman year in college.

I kill a man with a froe in the story which seems to indicate that the reeve did it only to find it was the reeve's wife's brother who did it in the end to obscure the attention the chicken theft was receiving.

You haven't read it anywhere because it wasn't a very good story.

Oh, it was a fine mystery. A great mystery - very intricate. Of course, you never gave a shit about any of the characters but the tinker who sort of wanders out of the narrative for two-thirds of the tale.

I learned a great deal writing that story. I owe it to the chicken without whom I'd have been laboring still under the illusion that story was "enough."

Characters are the story.

The effort for me is to make friends of the characters inside me so I care enough about the outcomes of my efforts on their imaginary lives to make the narrative come alive for you, the reader.

You have to like some of my characters. I have to love them all. Sure they can be horrible pieces of worthless flesh.

Maybe it is I have to love them in a Christ-like fashion to embrace them with their flaws intact. I sit at my desk in the library with my murderers and thieves and liars and whores and out-and-out villains.

I love them. I do love them so.

And, I love that first chicken. It's all her fault.

Off to write before the light fades. I need to go to bed early tonight.

The rooster's crow will summon me to task.

I hope your chicken scratch on foolscap is going well.

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