NPR's All Things Considered program recently finished up another Three Minute Fiction contest. The story had to start with the line "She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door." Not the greatest opening line in the history of open lines. Also, it had to be under 600 words. Quite a challenge!
I didn't make it as winner or in the selected favorites, but got some great feedback from others who submitted pieces. I won't post the piece here because I'm planning to send it off to a few other contests. However, I will strut a strut or two and post a few of the encouraging comments I received from the contest's Facebook pages. Each quote is from a different commenter.
"I think the heart of this piece is the contrast between Abraham, who is willing to sacrifice his child according to God's demands, and Yaeda who ultimately puts her devotion to her child above that to her deity. I do find that compelling - what does it take to make a person lose faith in their god, to put a love for one's fellow humans above a love for god."
"What a gentle love song this story is. I am especially struck by what I see as a Mother imagining her own, darker apocalypse the post apocalyptic world she already inhabits. I feel great tenderness for her, and admiration for her acts of love both physical and spiritual. One doesn't need to be a religious person themselves to appreciate the acts of faith she performs and the great meaning in quite literally swabbing her daughter in holy words. Very very well done. Thank you."
"This is very well done. I don't usually like stuff where the voice of the narrator is so booming. To carry it off, the piece has to be perfect, and I think this one is nearly that. Everything she describes dwindles-- these sentences are a good example: "Emptying her first of energy, then of humor, then of color. No toddles left, no gurgling laughter, no shining eyes." Though now that I've quoted that one, I'm not sure I'm a fan of "no toddles"."
"Suzanne, I loved this story. I am not at all familiar with the Song of Solomon (I wouldn't have known that is what is was if others had not posted it) but that doesn't harm the story, in my opinion. It leaves me like the grandmother - not really knowing or understanding the import, but observing and understanding the excruciating decisions all the same. Overall, it is a haunting tale - we take for granted things like paper, medicine, etc. The reminder that they are luxuries hits with impact."
"Well done, Suzanne. I am really in love with this piece. You write about an imperfect place. It makes sense that the imperfections should show so beautifully in the telling."
"Suzanne this is a powerful and beautifully written story. The juxtaposition of that particular book and that particular illness shouldn't have worked, but it did work because of your skillful writing and the passion that permeated every word. Thank you for sharing this story."
"Very strong sentiments, images . . . I want more."
"Really beautiful, haunting and moving."