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FLORA DENTATA -- or "The Word is My Oyster"

Posted on 2007.01.24 at 15:19
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday I completed my first short story in years. I’ve been so focused on my next novel, that I had forgotten the thrill and challenge of writing within the confines of a shorter narrative structure. That said, when I work on a novel, I treat every scene as a short story. Each scene must have it’s own arc, resolution, escalation, and verbal "music." The rhythm of a scene is particularly important to me, and after finishing each one, I read it aloud so I can hear where it does and doesn’t flow. Most often I want to hear Bach--a choral piece from one of his cantatas. Other times I’m striving for Orff, Stravinsky, or an anthem by an Industrial band that few outside the subculture have heard of(Wumpscut, VNV Nation, Combichrist). Very rarely, it’s Ornette Coleman I’m after.

I had forgotten how much writing a short story sharpens my instinct for when a particular scene succeeds or fails. It goes without saying that whether you are writing a novel or a short story, every word should count, but three-penny words and obtuse narrative scream at me in the short form. Unlike real life, there is no room for meandering dialogue. In the trinity of writing there’s the novel, the short story and the poem--think of them as an oyster, it’s flesh and the pearl. The pearl must stand alone and shine with a hard luster. The meat must satisfy, but is common without the pearl. The oyster as a whole is only worth cracking if the meat within it is sweet and the pearls (of which there should be many) polished and rare. We crack the shell to get at the wet and glossy treasures.

I dredged up this particular story from my oyster bed of never-published nightmares, tore it apart and scoured it with the ten years of experience I’ve gained since I first wrote it. It became, in the process, an entirely different beast. There is much of horror, much revenge, and not a little love. A woman, a rose, a crown of thorns, and yes, there is blood. The story is called "Flora Dentata." Here are a few lines I’d like to share:

"The ghosts of every man who had used her crowded her womb. There was no room for life within that cradle."

"But someday I will be a man and will do what all men do--ruin flowers."

"I’d rather a world without flowers, than a world with flowers sown from seeds of pain."


josiefiend at 2007-01-25 00:16 (UTC) (Link)
"I’d rather a world without flowers, than a world with flowers sown from seeds of pain."

I love that.

Knowing what kind of feeling you're going for with Bach, Orff, VNV Nation, and the like for your soundtrack really makes me interested in what Ornette Coleman sounds like!
rjcrowtherjr at 2007-01-28 00:48 (UTC) (Link)
Hey, Joey! I'm so glad you wrote to me, and happy that you and a few other souls still read my neglected blog.

Here's a wonderful link to a bio on Ornette Coleman. I first heard him on the brilliant, haunting score by Howard Shore for "Naked Lunch." Then I listened to his masterpiece, "Free Jazz," a forty-minute magnum opus recorded in 1960. His early music is frenetic, with a strange dynamic between elegant compostion and improvizaional chaos. He's one of those artists you either love or hate, and I love him.

If you're interested, send me your email through Myspace, and I'll send you a copy of "Flora Dentata." I'd love to know what you think.

Love, Rob
Mark Abaddon
abaculo at 2007-01-27 09:27 (UTC) (Link)

omg , It Lives!

"I had thought you stopped writing here.." says the kettle to Mr Crow.
and your lines shared make me wonder if you have read
The Passion
by Jeanette Winterson?
Or perhaps it was The Powerbook?
and if an answer resembling something a sensible parent might say to a child in a sane world,
when being troubled that hundredth time for the innocuously bad for the child item by said child

,then you should atleast acquaint yourself with the first chapter in a near possible future.
there is a very lovely scene involving tulips I think you could appreciate.

As for the novels themselves I don’t recommend them
But that first chapter – yes.
And if you oddly wanted a recommendation then I would be forced to say
Anais Nin – anything.
Jeanette Winterson – Written on the Body
Oh &
I suppose this is also Hello.
rjcrowtherjr at 2007-01-28 00:59 (UTC) (Link)

Re: omg , It Lives!

Hello to you too! I haven't read Jeanette Winterson, but I'll check out that chapter about the tulips. I've heard she's a very talented writer. Will also check out "Written on the Body." What a wonderful, evocative title. You know, I'm afraid to admit that I've never read anything by Anais Nin.

Have you read "The Dress Lodger" by Sheri Holman? Absolutely brilliant!
(Anonymous) at 2007-01-28 05:12 (UTC) (Link)

oh you poor poor lad.. let me fetch you some bread and gruel..you have a seat and i'll be right back

winterson will be a lovely experience for you – not because of her stories which truthfully I find a bit shite when considered as a whole, but because of her exorbitantly sensual writing style (though not as much so as Anais Nin) you – or I – read her books in a fugue state of hedonistic glory.. often dashing through plot to reach the next moment of sensual detail. And these are not necessarily tied to sexual moments , but trust me I know you some from what I’ve heard you recommend and speak in the past and you will be able to appreciate.

Her writing has often been enough to bring a flush and light sweat to my features.
(Anonymous) at 2007-02-26 00:00 (UTC) (Link)


Hello! Author, I'll just agree with you.
And great design, interesting site name rjcrowtherjr.livejournal.com :), I see you you're are not newbe. Go on with the good work!
rjcrowtherjr at 2007-02-26 22:04 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Great!

Thank you so much for the kind words! I tried to keep it simple--black and purple as Ghede's wardrobe at a Vodun fete, and I might add, a little bit Gothic. But who are you anonymous poster? Methinks I know you, but I'm not certain.

Carpe Noctem, Rob
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