does not describe me fully
it is where to start

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Caught Peeking - Two Short Stories

Recently, I shared with a friend two of my newly published short stories. He said he enjoyed them and that, “I see you peeking through in both of them.”

I was stunned. The stories were so not about my life. Indeed, one of the main characters was a young male. Except for the fact that I once cruised on a boat, there was nothing related to my life in those stories.

And then I realized. Of course, my friend would find me peeking in my stories. I was the author. It was my voice telling the stories. I could not help but be there. Even when I didn’t think I was.

So here are the two recently published stories in which my friend caught me peeking:

The Details” published in Rose and Thorn.

About a Boy” published in Gemini Magazine.

Thank you, Gemini Magazine and Rose and Thorn for selecting my stories.


Judy Croome said...

I once did a paper on authorial intrusion in TS Eliot's The Waste Land. I favour the school of thought that believes a little bit of the author peeks through every work...even if the author is unaware of it.

Well done on your published stories! Off to look at them now.

Judy (South Africa)

Judy Croome said...

Just read them both.

"About a Boy" did speak to me because I could relate to it (not having children I get SO annoyed when people say, oh, you have the time because you don't have kids!)

"The Details' is simply BRILLIANT. The characters grabbed me and the emotion held me and certain paras are sheer poetry that bought the tears to my eyes. A deep, marvellous piece of writing.

Judy (South Africa)

Kathryn1000 said...

I can see that on other people's work more easily than my own.But since I began writing I have discovered I am not who I thought I was!!

Tracy said...

Thank you, Judy, for letting us "peek" into your mind and heart. Thank you for knowing the solidity of the characters you have brought to life for us. The beauty you have given us is nourishing.

Judith Mercado said...

Patti O’Sullivan (
left the following remarks about my stories at another website and agreed to have me post them here.

Patti: I just read About A Boy. I really loved the dialogue, both inside Sarah's head and when she was speaking with Abe. I feel like there is more to this story. Did he force her to have an abortion or did I totally misread that part?

The Details is really moving. I lost my mother last year to cancer so the story really touched me. So many great questions in it such as, "At what point does adventure stop being so important?" and "How do you live a life whose sole purpose seems to be the creation of memories?"

Judy: Thanks for taking the time to read and then comment on the stories. Sarah in “About a Boy” did find herself in a situation that, bowing to Abe's wishes or not, she obviously made a decision she regretted. That things are left somewhat unclear is intentional as she still has not come to a place of trusting her own power at this point in her life. She is still quite deferential, though she is aware of her disquiet and that her long ago decision and Abe’s influence might be at fault. It was a story told intentionally in a minimalist way, with my hope that a great deal might be suggested.

As for “The Details,” the idea for that story came to me after meeting a young couple long ago, but the story is not their story but the one I imagined they might be living because the wife was dying.

Judith Mercado said...

Judy, coming from you, that is high praise indeed. Thank you so much. I swear the enjoyment I get from writing is multiplied when I hear my readers' reactions.

Kathryn, indeed, one of the reasons I have come to like writing so much is because I have learned so much about myself in the process.

Tracy, I reprise what I told Judy above about how much I grow and benefit from hearing others' reactions. Case in point: solidity of characters. I had never thought of them that way, but now can appreciate them that way.

Kathryn Magendie said...

We (R&T, me, staff!) loved The Details . . . now I must go read your other work, going to click over there now!

A Cuban In London said...

I have just read your two stories.

What appealed to me the most was the common themes running through them: the sea, secrecy and the presence of very balanced characters. But there were also striking differences. 'About a Boy' lets the reader know more than what he or she realises. And yet there's a cliffhanger there which makes it all the more enigmatic. The whole 'child(less) issue' is very well addressed.

'The Details' (brilliant titles, by the way, love them!) has a status game at its heart. it reminded me of the games we used to play in my drama group when I was in uni and we did impro. We would start a scene with a certain status - for instance an actor would have a higher status than another one - only for the tutor to switch roles at some point in the three-minute exchange. The results were hilarious, to say the least, because you had to justify the switch. The same happened with the narrator and Mr P. At some point I felt that the intitial reverence for the latter was going the former, only to come back later.

Thanks for the links. I enjoyed your stories. I look forward to more.

Greetings from London.

Judith Mercado said...

Gloria P. McM. left a comment about "About a Boy" at another website. Since she is a university writing instructor, I found her comments interesting and am copying them here:

Gloria: I would like to talk about “About A Boy.” Your narration is very low key. The story gives the sense of the elephant in the middle of the living room that nobody wants to talk about quite well. Dialogue is economical as in Hemingway, whom we all study as the master of getting the small actions to reflect that something bigger is just off stage. This pointing to the bigger picture in a relationship is no easy feat in such a short space and that’s why many folks feel that short stories are the hardest to write. In my Writing 102 class, we always start with Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain” that does something along these lines, the hook being why the American wife in the Italian hotel room wants to rescue the cat she sees.

Judith: It is interesting, Gloria, that you cite Hemingway because of all my stories, this is the only one directly influenced by one of his famous stories, “Hills Like White Elephants.” As originally written, my story was an answer to the question: how would Hemingway's couple have felt decades later about the decision they made while waiting for the train in Spain? Ultimately, in the story that I wrote, my couple is not the same couple, but they are dealing with the aftermath of a similar decision. I feel honored that you thought I was at all Hemingwayesque in my story.

Judith Mercado said...

Kathryn: Thanks again for featuring my story in your literary review.

Cuban: Your interpretations enhance my understanding of my own stories. Thank you.

rosaria said...

I came from Cuban. So glad to meet you.