I intended to kick off with my favourite example of 'beautiful writing', which, of course, is only my opinion. I think, though, that it would be good to save that for a little bit... and look at the voices of a few other writers who are more contemporary!
For those of you who don't yet know, a new anthology is coming out on the 15th Dec 2013, all proceeds of which are going to charity - LitWorld. The anthology, Library of Dreams, brings together a varied range of stories from vastly different authors with vastly different styles. The stories cover an array of genres, tied together by the theme of 'dreams', and I can't think of a better thing to promote than this!
The money raised from the sale of Library of Dreams is going to Stand Up For Girls, one of LitWorld's projects. You can read more about it here.
One of the contributors to the anthology is Serbian author, Miloš Petrik. His story is intriguing speculative fiction, Dream Job.
I love the urgency of the present tense teaser, although present tense is not my favourite! I would love to experiment with these kinds of things, but the past tense is my comfort zone.
I asked Petrik and other contributors to give me an example of their writing for this series, as a prelude to the anthology being published.
The following paragraph is what he provided, unrelated to his story, but telling a story in itself. I've been privileged to get to know these writers over the past year or so, and what I really admire about Petrik's style and talent is that he is so able to construct a short narrative from minimal prompts, and to make a complete image or scene from a few well chosen words. It's a skill that I need to develop, because it doesn't come naturally to me in the way that it does to Petrik. At least, I assume it does. He makes it look effortless.
Knives never knew another of her kind. Years passed, and she learned how to be shadow, invisible to all, and listen in on whispered conversations in secret languages of birds and bugs and foxes and cats. She learned of things, dark and bright, that lived in the canal when it had been a river, and on the estate when it had been a forest, and knew that they were like her, but also not like her. She fed on the humour of the fear of the night and grew, until she was bigger than any of the foxes that lived in the dark recesses of the estate. It wasn’t long before Mr Tiddles was found in a pool of piss and cat blood, between two skips, gutted and with paws cut off and mangled. A child poked him with a pencil and went off to call her mother, but the other cats ate him while she was gone, and took his power.
I liked this.
I liked the contrast between the childhood innocence and fascination with the grotesque, and the human world side by side with the kill-or-be-killed savagery of the animal kingdom all around them. I love the way you see Knives and don't see her, at the same time. I love the way the child's activity bridges the gap between barbarism and civility, and makes me feel inexplicably uncomfortable.
I'm not going to critique it - that's an editor's job, and I'm neither an editor nor a critic. I'm just interested in looking at it on its own merit, not in trying to change anything. When something isn't the way the reader would like it to be, I wonder whether that's just saying, "it's not how I would write it". Maybe that would be better. Maybe it would divide opinion. Maybe it would make it worse. But "better", "worse" and "about the same" are subjective concepts, too.
So, I'm just offering up teasers with a few of my own random thoughts, and leaving you to make your own minds up.
Petrik has published works in his native Serbian, but if you would like to read more of his style and unique twisted take on the world, check out Dream Job in the forthcoming Library of Dreams!