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An O:JA&L Writer’s Portfolio

Featured Writer Jim Meirose


To explore more of Jim Meirose’s work,
view or download Experimental Storytelling: The Timeline of Complementary Realities
the free PDF in the 2023 O:JA&L Chapbook Series.

Color Composition by August Macke

Something that always seems to rub me wrong is calling what we do “writing” and calling ourselves “writers”. What we do is not only “writing”, the writing’s just part of it. That’s just a tool to get a story onto the page. Saying we’re “writers” is like calling an architect a “draftsman” or a mechanic a “wrencher”. Writing’s just one of the tools we use for fictional storytelling. Also, the term “experimental” as applied to literature is problematic. A lot of what’s currently labeled “experimental” is mostly wordplay and/or wordplay combined with visuals. etc. Also a lot of this work is expressing the author’s own emotions and/or viewpoints on some real-life topic, but—the appeal of this sort of prose is usually limited to those with interest in the specific topic, but—to cut to the chase—To me this sort of thing is not fiction. It’s more like journalism or editorialization or autobiography or things like that, than any kind of fiction. I don’t condemn those involved in it. It’s just a style that’s not for me.

My idea of storytelling is revealing the truth of a character and/or characters’ experiences along a timeline. As my characters travel along that timeline, they’re interacting with two radically different “realities”; the one “inside their head” they’re struggling to make sense of, and make life decisions based upon, and the one “outside their head” which they have barely limited control over. Sights, sounds, visions, correlations, associations images, and feelings, or lack of same, are continuously flooding the “inside” of their heads. These are the base realities my characters are living with every moment of every day. Next, just as no two of us in real life see the “outside world” in the same way, neither do my fictional characters. An example: when one individual sees the color red, they see it differently than others see the color red. But we comfortably agree that we are both seeing a color called red because red things have certain other aspects about them such that when they generally line up, we lock in and agree that we’re both seeing the color red. We can then feel comfortable talking about “red” things in a casual, matter-of-fact way. This is how we interact with everything in the common real world and with each other. The world inside every individual is very, very, different than anyone else’s, in ways we might find most disquieting if we had unbroken, conscious, awareness of all this. But anyway. Thus, seems to be what I’m trying to portray in my fiction now after all these years; characters spending the better part of their lives struggling to keep track of what’s going on both inside and out and trying to decide which of the available logical ways to behave next may be acted upon without creating a huge problem for them, and/or for others. This is life. But none of this to me is at all worth expressing, if it’s not propped up by the skeleton of some simple, shared, easy to believe in story.  And the presence of a “story” with a “plot” is the foundation which I feel keeps most readers today turning the pages.  No matter how chaotically riotous the prose may become line after line and page after page, at the bottom the story is moving along, beating the drum, keeping the whole thing together somehow for the reader.

This is risky to pull off. You got to take the reader right to the edge and stop just short of causing them to lean back, roll their eyes, slam the book shut and hurl it to the floor, shouting “This writer sucks and that’s it! I am done with this idiot! This writing makes no sense!” Most times now, I can do this. But still, I fail at it often. This is what life is all about.

Lastly, here are a few absolute no-nos for me (and which may apply to most of those reading this); the minute I feel myself “trying” to make sense, is where the flow state dissolves and causes my work to stumble, fall, and die. I have ways to get myself into the “flow” where the prose nearly rolls itself forward by itself and I’m just off to the side watching. Everyone needs to find the way into the flow state for themselves. Look it up. The nature of “flow” and how to achieve it is a fascinating topic. On days I can’t get there, I take the day off because I know none of what I do will be good and will most likely need to get trashed.

And finally; don’t subscribe to the truism “kill your darlings”. No. No. Seldom is this either wise or necessary. Embrace your darlings and let them inspire you to polish the work to where the entire thing is a darling. There’s a challenge for you. Thanks. There you go.


About the writer:
Jim Meiroses short fiction has appeared in leading journals, and his novels include Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer (Optional Books), Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF), Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection (Mannequin Haus), and No and Maybe – Maybe and No (Pski’s Porch).

Image: Color Composition by August Macke (1887-1914). No medium specified. No size specified. By 1914. Public domain.

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