March 26, 2006

Lacking toil

In short, I am too easy on my characters. I want them to succeed. I want them to live happily ever after. I begin to love the characters I create and do not want to heap incredible odds against them. Writing short stories seems to turn me into a devil of sorts, always plotting against my own creations. It's an indirect sort of masochism, I'm finding.

I'm not surprised when I receive critiques of my work. "Too few bad things." "Pump up the conflict." "Kill someone." These are all common feedback phrases I've received this semester on my fiction.

I guess reaching into that twisted part of me has been kind of scary. I've never contemplated so much death, destruction and twisted circumstances of fate/luck/evil than I have this semester. Sometimes, when I discover something truly sinister that I could perhaps write, I push it aside. I think this is mostly because I'm still not that comfortable with my persona as a fiction writer. I'm afraid that if I describe a murder it would end up sounding like a Tiny Toons episode or if someone would read this, I think to myself, could I be construed as a suspect to a murder like on CSI? Both disconcerting possibilities.

However, that's really limiting my twistedness. I don't think just about murder; I think about mistaken identities, torture, foiled love affairs and even an occasional animal cruelty situation. I think the conflict is in my head and I'm still too nervous to put it to paper. It's like something gets caught.

But maybe this is kind of a good thing. A simple conflict can be beefed up with more twists, but a melodrama is harder to tone down because the set of events is already in place and pretty tangled.

Something to ponder as I face this week of critiques...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 16, 2006

Words, words, words.

Eat words. (Cheerios--but it's always "ooooooo." Maybe I should invest in Alpha-Bits.)
Spell words. (Or the spell-checker does it 4 me.)
Find words. (The right ones that will be on the test. Words Anonymous I will find you!)
Check words. (Copy editor, editor Pick up a Setonian!)
Clean words. (Dirt spews forth in distress.)
Right words. (Stop! Say the things that uplift and encourage. WTF is wrong with you?)
Write words. (Flow like a river? a drunk's puke? I guess it varies. The day. The hour. The fear.)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 11, 2006

Hallelujah Hoagie: Religious consumption of The Coppula

Every Saturday I eat the same thing. It is not out of habit. It is not because I am relatively poor (although I need not worry about the price). It is because I dearly love The Coppula Hoagie.

Hoagies are my thing. I've loved them since I could order my own toppings at Subway (black olives, please) or when my mom would roll down the car window and buy one from a fireman selling them precariously in the middle of Main Street.

However, there isn't a hoagie like a Coppula's. Anywhere. Believe me, I've tried. They could start a hoagie monopoly with that place. I'd keep coming though.

I just bought one this afternoon at their shop in the Mount Pleasant Plaza. The family-owned restaurant, while covered in 70's paneling and splotched with artificial flowers, is a charming little nook, filled with the owner's golf memories and older gentlemen patrons that smile at me when I come in. That's kind of gross, actually...Oh well, for this lunch ($2.95, by the way), I could take any number of old-man smirks and even a few whistles.

While Coppula's has traditional Italian dishes on hand for lunch like pasta fasul or wedding soup (the Italian is redundant--I don't think they even put it on their signs), I order the hoagie every time. It's all my mother's fault. We'd buy two and my sister and I would share one. I remembered licking the olive oil from my fingers and wanting a whole one to myself. I eventually did, but I was very full. Sated, I believe is the right word.

What is this legendary hoagie, precisely? Well, I'm glad my invisible reader asked. It's salami, ham, sandwich pepperoni, lettuce, onion, always-ripe tomato, garlic and olive oil on a homemade Italian roll--I think. I've already eaten half of a hoagie before I even realize it. Dissection, after all, is about depreciating the value of the whole experience, and I chose not to do so on any occasion.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:40 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 6, 2006

Between winter and hope

The Pentacostal people sing like bees these days. They don't turn their heads to spy their neighbor in the next pew. The lawn is a carpeted calico of last summer's baking scars. The conversation, now trapped to indoor activity, wanes, but still flows, unwillingly, from subject to subject, because old gray doilies still decorate the cold window panes. The glider in the back yard swings from time to time, like a grandmother rocking serenely, thinking of the glory days of light and green. She doesn't notice in her creaking reverie, that her jet dress is gray now, and the white stripes of her seat are soiled with sappy remains.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack