Received a text yesterday from an author and person I think well of. They're one of the people on my email chain. When I complete a story--not every story--what I usually do is send it on an email to the people who are first going to see it. These are a mix of people--writers, radio people, a musician, a college dean, a classical composer, and so forth. The roster can change, but the core group is mostly the same. People from their twenties to their sixties, mix of men, women. I don't think this person will mind me sharing this, especially as these words should be documented in more permanent a fashion than in text, where the words are unlikely to survive. They had awoke in the middle of the night last week, thinking about one of the two stories I had written that week, a work called "Taffy and Grilled Cheese." Another day or two passed, as thoughts were gathered, and then they passed along this interesting series of thoughts:
"I somehow felt more articulate about this the other night, but I was thinking about your stories, your characters, and how tightly compressed they are but also how open; they feel purposefully crafted and improvisational at the same time. And the characters are often isolated from someone or something, and yet deeply imaginative or connected, able to if not literally then figuratively to acknowledge some kind of connection between them and and 'other.' It reminds me of you, working so industriously in isolation, but somehow able in the fiction you write to tap into deep reserves of empathy to deliver human truths. Your stories are wise not because they're trying to be wise but because they just are. There's almost a relinquishing of 'attempt' altogether. Instead it feels as if each story is narrated by the vehicle of Colin Fleming, but the voices are different, each a kind of possession that takes hold, that uses you as a conduit."
And my response:
"Sorry for the delay. For most of yesterday, my hands were just dripping sweat. I think this sounds pretty accurate. The conduit part, certainly. There are many, many stories, and I would say that there is total connection, no separation in any of a number. But what you describe to me, is life. Life is wise, without trying to be wise. Do we see the wisdom? Often, no. But the stories help us see it, and often, with regularity. I think that is one thing that makes them different than any other writing. As different as they are from each other, they do that same thing. Albeit differently. But I am the conduit. These people are out there, in my view, they are more real as people than people, in a way. They are all autonomous. They are going to reveal themselves to me, tell me their stories. They, and I, are part of a process that way. I guess it's pretty complicated. But the conduit/possession idea is quite accurate. That's part of the reason for the endless amount of voices. In one regard, it's entirely me, in another, not me at all. There is no limit, no edge, no boundary. There is limitless creation and life. It's not what people are doing in the Gettysburg Review. And it's a large part of why I'm going to get where I'm going. I will add that were I not in isolation--something I wrote about on the blog this AM, actually, before reading your words--I'd be doing the same thing. As I will when I am not in isolation. I guess what I would say is I've figured it out. It was like a kind of universe, or the universe, cracked open for me, and I got to see inside. And I just got it. I became this oneness of story. I became it. It wasn't even something I did."