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Feb 11, 2016; Rescue Pet Rock Asks:

Hello Professor Stacey Richter. I notice in one of your answers, you say you "no longer believe in the coming end times." I am interested in what this means. Does it mean you used to believe in the coming end times? Or that you never really believed in them to begin with, but now you believe in them even less so? Or, alternatively, does it mean that you don't believe in the "coming" end times because they're already here? Do you believe the human world is going to be subject to global catastrophes, at least? Severe climate change? Mass problems in access to food and water sources, as well as Flint-like or Zika-virus-like adverse, high-population-affecting problems from toxic pollution and epidemics that are exacerbated by modern human activity on the global scale? Is it too upsetting to think about -- especially since there's so little that can be done about it? Do you actively choose to ignore it out of a survival need to prioritize your emotional and thought investments of time and energy? Do you see humanity as a force that ultimately has no internal self-regulating power? Is that defeatist or realist? Do you think it's a conspiracy? Do scientists over-state their forecasts out of desire to promote themselves and their research groups? (That's the line perpetuated by right-wing, think-tank, industry-sponsored, anti-science groups, but far be it from me to completely dismiss the possibility of cycnical motivation from any field of human endeavor.) Do you think "end times" is too psychically upsetting to acknowledge, too hurtful to young people who had no say in the processes that brought us to this alleged brink of cataclysm? Are you disturbed by the possibility that there's nothing "post" post-modernism -- that all the modes have been used up, churned and burned, thrashed and cashed? Why do you say you no longer believe in the coming end times, Stacey Richter? What DO you believe? I want to know what you believe. Stacey Richter's mind-life matters.

Stacey answers:

Thank you for the question, Rescue. I've been hoping that someone would ask me this.

I do not believe society is on the brink of losing its mastery of technology and plunging into tribal fractions as in The Road by Cormac McCarthy, or Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, or Far North by Marcel Theroux; I do not believe weíre headed for a global catastrophe dystopia. I used to believe something like that, or at least be afraid of it, but that changed when I realized that people have always believed that the apocalypse was imminent, wholeheartedly, in pretty much every society at every point in human history (with the possible exception of the Greeks). Humans have always been convinced that we are living in the last days; soon, very soon, we will pay for our pleasures and sins in a huge ball of fire that roasts high and low alike. Yet despite what people have believed, and despite the horrors created by man and nature, civilization as a whole has not yet ruptured. (Actually it has, once, in 1346-53, when the Black Death killed 30Ė60% of the population of Europe, hitting China and India in the decades before that. But not recently.)

When I actually stopped and thought about it, I realized that the evidence for the coming apocalypse was equivocal, emotional, and influenced by fads as much as by science. During the cold war, our doom was going to arrive as mutual assured nuclear destruction; now itís going to come as global warming and emerging viruses. But itís not as though someone is weighing these risks objectively. During the cold war, influenza was (and still is) the virus with the deadliest potentialóand it may have been higher then because vaccines werenít as advanced. But no one worried about it. The risk of a nuclear catastrophe might be as high now as it was in the 80ís, or even higher. But no one worries about it.

The fact that our fears follow fashion does not exactly boost my credulity. Itís not that I donít believe the science of global warming, etc.óI do. I just donít assume that the worst-case outcome will automatically result. It is scary, and fear drives us to think of the most extreme result; our culture does too. The idea of Armageddon is deeply engrained in the Christian worldview. That gives us our conclusion: the world is evil and it is about to end. Once thatís assumed, all we have to do is figure out how itís going to end. That changes with the times.

Thatís just shitty logic. Someone could just as easily claim that weíre living in a golden age of progress, information, convenience, and resourcefulness. The evidence for this is actually better. The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa was appalling, but it was not a global catastrophe. Now, two years later, a vaccine has been developed thatís 100% effective, as well as this improved protective suit.

So anyway, Pet Rock, if everyone always believes the world is about to end, and if the world continues to not end, there must be something else going on. I think something else is going on inside peopleís heads. None of us know the future. No one knows whatís going to happen before it happens. But I do know that you and everyone you know and love will perish, not in a moment of high drama and dangeróin an apocalypse, with everyone elseóbut in silence, slipping below the surface. I know that after you die, everything will go on without you pretty much exactly as it did before. Youíre dead, and people keep getting up and eating breakfast. Itís a terrible thing. Itís so terrible that we crave a kind of sweeping mythology to protect ourselves from the deepest confrontation with it. Wouldnít it be sort of great, in a gruesome way, for our ends to be extraordinary? For me and everyone I know and love to perish together in the final moments of mankind? A big boom is the only kind of event that even begins to approach the dark, unbearably sad feeling that comes with the knowledge that you are going to die, everyone is going die, and the world is going to keep on going without you.

So yes, what Iím saying is that I think itís a metaphor. I think itís a displacement. The end of the world may seem scary and horrifying, but the alternative is worse: the world doesnít end. It simply ends for you.

Pet Rock, you asked me what I believe. I would call belief in the coming end times a protective mythology. I believe that a feeling of impending world doom is a metaphor, a displacement of the fear of our own mortality. I believe that optimism is as realistic as pessimism, but that pessimism contains a heightened illusion of control (i.e., you canít cut off my arm, Iíve already cut it off myself). I believe that people use fear as a means of power and control, for example assholes such as Warren Jeffs, and I question that way of seeing things. I believe that bad shit happens all the time, and that having a picture of an on/off switch in oneís head is, strangely, more comforting than trying to follow the fluctuating degrees of brutality and coercion and injustice and stupidity and chance as they happen. Iím not optimistic, but I believe itís reasonable to be optimistic. I believe that the automatic assumption of doom is as foolish as a cheery, blanket denial that anything is wrong.

What I believe overall, my biggest belief that guides many of my other beliefs, is that itís my duty to try to see the world as clearly as I possibly can, and that in this I must use my intelligence and intuition and books and reference works and what people say. I believe itís my obligation to try as hard as I cannot to fool myself. This is very difficult. People fool themselves by nature; itís a useful adaptation. I would say Iíve pretty much failed. But I try.

Nov 23, 2015; Michael Henry Asks:

Hello Stacey! So glad to be back. I was going to segment and number my questions but decided against it. This post will be brief.

Show, donít tell. What does this mean? I know how teachers and/or writers define and analyze this creative writing slogan. But Iím curious how you approach the topic of showing versus telling. Should writers worry about showing versus telling? Do you worry about specificity and detail in your work? How can writers get more detail into their writing? How can their writing be more specific, concrete? That gets to another question about genre. An essay wonít work with just showing. And so the amount showing and telling is determined by what youíre writing, the genre. A play or a screenplay is all showing. Whatever telling is in the text Ė research, digressions, stage directions Ė remain invisible during a performance. Essays tell, generalize, the writer meditating, assaying, swerving on the page. And there are plenty of novels with little showing. Poetry should have the most imagery and sense detail. And yet Ö Iím skimming through a number of past volumes of the Best American Poetry. You know what: the sense details are limited. Look at whatís being printed! In a lot of fiction, thereís as much summary as scene. An essay requires as much telling as showing Ė reflection, summary.

There are two subjects when we write. Thereís the subject we write about, what address in the piece Ė a broken heart, a shirt, a Chinese restaurant, family Ė and then thereís the subject underneath what we write about, a deeper meaning and purpose. The deeper subject can be a depth charge. Itís the stuff that matters. Iíve thought about writing YA or horror or sciĖfi novel or a paranormal gothic romance. But am I being authentic? I think this is a theme in your answers. Being authentic. This divide between whatís on the surface and what else is there. You encourage us to think about and dig into whatís underneath.

What scares us? What turns you on? Whatís wrong? I know I hide a lot in both my writing and in life. I avoid writing about myself Ė likes and dislikes, loses and wins. I worry about not having anything to write about. When you said I should write essays or blog entries, I felt elated and scared. I love the idea of writing essays. Essays are fact. They are the author addressing their life in some way. If you write, you canít evade writing about what you know Ė your opinions, emotions, ideas, experiences, observations. Write a tenĖminute play and you can avoid writing about yourself directly. In a short story, you can hide. Maybe I have it all wrong here. I should write about the deeper subjects. In an essay making yourself the center is what itís all about. I have no friends, no social life. Iíve never had a girlfriend, never been on a date. Writing scares me because I know this limits what I have to write about. As Iím writing this question, I can see clearly why you told me to write nonfiction.

I abandon story ideas and plots. I can spend all day generating ideas Ė be it YA, romance, horror, sci-fi. I feel a surge of excitement after writing a page or two of summary but then when it comes to writing an opening to the novel, I freeze. I could probably will the words unto the page. Writing poetry is sort of the same.

Whatís always depressed me the most is that there is so little to write about when it comes to my life. I donít think I could ever write a memoir. It would be impossible to actually gather up enough material to write about. Playwrights canít really spend a great deal time on description. When I took a playwriting course a couple of years ago, we wrote two tenĖminute, two monologues and a threeĖpage play (your exercise!) and half the writing in my plays was stage directions. You get the description of a shirt or chair or asparagus or the names of chess pieces but then you donít get as much language out of the characters.

Iím going back to the threeĖpage exercise. Except I wonít write prose. At least not yet. I write threeĖpage plays. I have no idea what this will be like. It scares me. I like the idea of staying with it even if I only have weird, poorly constructed, silly, sloppy, pointless three-page scenes. You took the time to write these amazing entries. You lay out such thoughtful responses but I donít run with your advice right away. Thatís what Iím doing now. I know that many of the three-page scenes will suck. I wonder though if the excise will do any good if it is dramatic writing and not prose. Should I revise the three-pages? Should I worry or think about the structure and arc of the characters? Should there be patterns of change, beats of discovery and decision? At what point can I pivot and write a tenĖpage play? Something I can send out. Iím always wrestling with how much time and effort should go into outlining, planning, summarizing and gathering feedback.

Should I show the threeĖplays to anyone? Ask for feedback? Or just press on? Should I write one threeĖpage scene a day? Or tinker and play with each one until I end up with one a week? Whatís the end game? Usually I write pages and pages of stage directions. Thereís dialogue but a lot of it ends up being the characters discussing events and ideas. Monologuing. I donít know why I feel like I have to write threeĖpages of dramatic writing. Because Iíll stick to it? Because I want to write plays more than short stories and novels? What if this exercise only works if you write prose fiction? When can I stop writing the threeĖpages and write a tenĖminute play instead? Any additional advice? At least the scenes wonít be as bad as the play I worked on for six months or so.

Iím also going to slow down or completely stop reading creative writing books. Iím reading mostly plays right now, slogging my through the list of the 100 best plays in Daniel Burtís Drama 100 and the additional 100 recommendations in an appendix.

I am also going to blog. Youíre right. Itís something that could be immensely satisfying even if no one ever reads it. I worry about publishing. This is a topic you know a lot about. But then I also realize that if all you ever do is think about publishing or stress, let it prevent you from doing anything, then youíre missing the point. The point is the work.

Stacey answers:

Youíre overthinking this and underestimating yourself. Itís like youíre seeing yourself through a dark lens that drains away your considerable color and brightness, and when youíre done with that you tamp your inner life down into a dark corner and just kind of stomp on it until itís flat.

Itís not flat. Itís interesting and singular. I donít anyone else who can boast of having no friends, no datesóitís like a Kafka story. Youíre not in a boring world; youíre in a rich, unusual, strange one. Thereís a lot there, if you look around. Thereís a lot in you: to write about, to live, and to offer other people. Youíre a sensitive person with a broad, persistent, searching intelligence. You have no time for self-pity and a sort of reflexive kindness and concern for otherís feelings that I really admire. You know, MH, thereís no correct stuff to write aboutóthe ďwrite what you knowĒ mantra annoys me. If youíre emotionally honest in your material (i.e. not totally faking it and phoning it in according to what you think youíre supposed to be writing to be a good boy), you canít avoid writing what you know. Another way to say it is writing who you are. Metaphors seep out. Thatís the depth charge you talked about. You donít even have to try to bring it up; it emerges as you go if you donít stop it. This is one of the many reasons why I keep encouraging you to just GO: to write, to experiment, do the three pages, whatever. To stop avoiding it by thinking thereís a right way to do it. Thereís no right way. Sorry.

The crux of the three-page story is to practice, play, and experiment. Itís an exercise, like a musician playing scales or an artist sketching. Thatís why the stories (or plays) are not supposed to be good, like the sketches an artist makes donít have to be good: they just have to be made. So no, you should not rewrite, or polish, or even read the stories over when youíre done if you donít feel like it. Thereís no weight on the finished product. All the weight is in doing.

The other point of the exercise is to release yourself from the pressure that comes with the idea that everything you produce is significant, i.e., that your shit is golden. Everything you make does not need to be cherished or read or even preserved. Thereís a lot of value in letting go, playing, lightness, non-attachment, and improvisation. At a certain level, making art is play, a version of cowboys and Indians, or Barbie, or dress-up, or whatever it was you loved to play when you were a child. Give yourself permission to fuck around without agonizing or overthinking. Or you can try it with agonizing and overthinking one day, then try it without the next. You can worry about specificity and detail for a few stories, and then give it up for a while. Plan ahead and donít plan: try both. See which works better and which you like better.

I think youíre definitely on to something with the play writing. Yes, itís all dialogue and therefore all showing. To me, showing is dialogueóthatís the essence of it (for me). Itís also important to report the significant actions (and inactions) of your characters, obviously. The significant actions. I donít really think in terms of specificity and detail, though yeah, that stuff is good. Telling can be good too.

You are under no obligation to write what you know, especially not in the sense of friends and ice cream socials and working as a door-to-door salesman. What if you wrote about your isolation? It's fascinating. Maybe your relationship with your family members is unusually intense; maybe your social interactions are charged in a certain way. It doesnít have to be about YOU, exactly; in fact, it probably shouldnít be. This is one of the secret ways that fiction works. You have something you want to write about, something you need to say but itís too painful or confusing or large to say it flat out. But what if you made up a story that encompasses this stuff in an oblique or exaggerated way? Or what if you let the story youíre writing wander into that area on its own? Alone-themed stories come in any genre, any formójust off the top of my head, I can think of The Shining by Stephen King, The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson, and Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. (Then thereís Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrandóher essay ďA Sudden IllnessĒ is hands down the best piece of writing Iíve ever read about being sick. Sheís been very ill for most of her adult life and doesnít get out or see people, ever. But sheís written two wonderful books about overcoming adversity. I love her.)

Anyway, there are a lot of books about isolation. Really, writing doesnít have to be about your external life. It can be about your inner life, your way of seeing and experiencing the world, of making meaning. Now go do it.

Nov 14, 2015; Christian Asks:

Hi Stacey, I'm leading a discussion of The Cavemen in the Hedges for my fiction class next week. I was wondering if you had any interesting backstory tidbits/inspirations or advice about creating such unique characters and situations I could share with the class. Thanks!

Stacey answers:

Hi Christian. I think I missed your deadline but I'll still give you an answer. I just have to think of one. More coming soon.

Okay, it's later. The only thing I could think of is that this one particular Pizza Hut by I-10 fascinated me. It was in a large area of abandoned farmland, the most ecologically devastated land possible, and whenever I drove by its cheery red roof, I thought, "What the fuck?" You know? Then there was the fact that I had a basement. A friend told me a story about someone he knew who had a psychotic break. Part of the way it manifested itself was in a refusal to go down into the basement. I thought that was poignant. I also worried that when I had my own psychotic break, I would become freaked out by my own basement.

That never happened. It wasn't really a basement--it was more of a cellar with an outside entrance. Basements (and cellars) are rare in Arizona because the ground is so hard that it's not worth it to build them. But I had one and I thought I could go down there in the coming end times (I no longer believe in the coming end times, by the way) or in the event of a tornado. The interesting thing that did end up happening with my basement was, because of its steep steps and small entrance, it began to function as a giant animal-trap My neighbor's kitten went missing for a day. She was in the basement. I once found someone's pet tortoise at the bottom of the stairs. I have no idea how long it had been down there, but it looked pissed off. I happened to have been digging in the yard that day and had a big, writhing pile of grubs. I consulted a tortoise expert (who adopted the little guy in the end) and she told me that this particular type was carnivorous. I fed it grub after grub. It was beautiful.

Nov 07, 2015; Linda Jane Asks:

Hello. God bless you. I am a Translator and have a huge team of Translators. If you have any material you want to get translated into Yiddish, my first and native language, also into Hebrew, Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Georgian, Greek, Hindi and other 50 major languages, please let me know about it. I will wait for your answer please. Thank you. In Christ, Linda Jane.

Stacey answers:

Why hello there, Linda Jane. There aren't that many native speakers of Yiddish around anymore, that's for sure, and certainly not ones who are "In Christ." Thank you for your kind offer. I'll keep it in mind.

Nov 05, 2015; Brie Asks:

Have any of your short stories been adapted for screen? If not, are you open to that idea?

Stacey answers:

Yes, Brie. Benjamin Keegan, a Columbia film student, adapted The First Men into a fantastic film. Here's a link with some info: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-first-men#/

Other stories I've written have been optioned and even sold to film companies, but no one has made a movie of any of them yet, and probably they never will. That seems to be how things go in the film business. Lots of stuff happens and then never happens. Still, it's nice to get paid.

Aug 27, 2015; Pickles Asks:

You feelin' me?

Stacey answers:

No, today I am not feeling you, Pickles. Not even a little bit.

Jun 24, 2015; Korina Apa Asks:

Hello Stacey! I love rock and roll music so I chose your short essay A groupie, A Rock Star for our class assignment. Your story flabbergasted me because it was so eccentric I didn't get it at first. But then it hit me, maybe you were talking about how they seem so different on the outside, so spicy, but then at the back of their facade, they were just like all of us, fragile human beings. I am not sure though if I, as the reader and you as the writer, have the same ideas. If we do, I hope to hear from you. However, I am deeply intrigued on how you come up with such bizarre (I mean it in a good way ) story? Is it because of an experience? Are you possibly the same as these characters? Maybe we all are at some point. Hope to hear from your reply soon! Thank you!

Stacey answers:

Yes and yes. I like your interpretation. Thereís never only one interpretation of any story so thereís no specific one thatís right (though I suppose someone could get it totally wrong). I think thereís a part of me in all the characters I write about, just like when you write a story, or even have a dream, thereís bound to be a lot of yourself in it since it comes from you. I was obsessed with certain rock stars from the time I was a little girl (if you count David Cassidy as a rock star), and Iím a big fan of the book Iím With The Band by Pamela Des Barres, a memoir about a California girlís life as a groupie in the early 1970ísóitís a book that redeems itself by proving that Miss Pamela had talent of her own, above and beyond the reflected talent of the men she bedded. I just love that. So maybe thereís some of that in the storyóthe idea that what a woman has might be as good or better than the thing sheís trying to absorb from a man through proximity, or sex, or love, or some combination of those.

Jun 23, 2015; Nicole Anne Asks:

Hi, Stacey. I have never really been a reader of short stories but it was a pleasure to read A Prodigy of Longing. It took me a long time to finally realize what the story meant to me. I just have a few questions in mind. In the story, it talks about Skyeís beliefs in Nephilim, the aliens, and eternal life. How much do you believe in these? Were your spiritual beliefs in life somehow connected to that of hers? Also, I remember the time when the young boy was reading Either / Or by Soren Kierkegaard. I was intrigued by his discussion of the ďmisery inherent in hopeĒ and I was wondering if this book played an integral part in writing your short story? Did this idea influence you to write this short story? Lastly, Iím curious. What are you reading right now and what book had a huge influence in your life?

Stacey answers:

Hi Nicole Anne. Iíve been hesitant to answer very astute questions because Iím afraid of disillusioning you, but here goes: I do not believe in the Nephilim, aliens, or eternal life. Iím shamefully unspiritual, though I do have a sense of a realm in the universe larger and lighter than myself that I will be forever excluded from, and some envy, therefore, of people with strong beliefs. I do believe in the misery inherent in hope, thatís for sure, but I canít recall reading Either/Or, ever. There are quite a few Kierkegaard references in the story so I must have at least looked at it, but honestly, I think I mostly relied upon conversations with my local philosopher. Before you decide Iím a total charlatan, let me add that the Kierkegaardian references I include sound like the kind of things I think about sometimes, and their themes of wanting are woven throughout the book as a whole, so I suspect I was using the cover of Kierkegaard to cram in what I wanted to say myself. Those ideas, or parts of them, also sound a lot like Buddhist philosophy 101, so maybe theyíre in the air.

Right now Iím reading The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit. The list of books that have a huge impact on my life is a strange one. Essentially, itís all books that have had a huge impact on my life; books as an agent of enlightenment. Maybe thatís my spiritual belief. Hereís a quote from another book I read recently, Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose: ďI believe we need literature, which, by allowing us to experience more fully, to imagine more fully, enables us to live more freely.Ē Itís a wonderful thing to read a sentence like that and realize it was written by an academic.

Jun 22, 2015; Tanner Bennett Asks:

Hello Stacey, recently I read Blackout for my English class and i was very intrigued. I wanted to ask about Kylie. Did her story really occur to someone in your life or at least a situation in which a harmless person is greatly traumatized and left out to dry?

Stacey answers:

Well, kind of but not exactly. That story was sparked by a trip to Nogales, a Mexican border town about sixty miles from Tucson. At the time, all the pharmacias there did have signs in the windows that said, ďNO ROOFIES!!!Ē and I thought, well, I guess a lot of people come to Nogales aiming to buy roofies. I also lived near the University of Arizona where sorority pledge week begins before school starts, when the campus is still empty, so itís pretty easy to pick out the Greek girls and the aspiring Greek girls as they flock from event to event in cocktail dresses in the 110-degree heat. It wasnít much of a stretch for me to put these two observations together into a story. However, I do know women and girls who suspect that theyíve been drugged and raped, though theyíre not sure because itís hard to know whatís actually happened to you when youíre unconscious. The not knowing, but suspecting, is an especially poisonous situation that leads to poisonous, self-recriminating thoughts (did I deserve it for partying, did I say yes and forget, am I bad girl, etc.). Thatís why I needed Kylie as a witness. I donít know anyone who played the part that Kylie didóremaining on the sidelines, with the ability to ponder it afterward. I made that up. You know Tanner, I wasnít sure which girl you were referring to as harmless and traumatizedóat first I thought it was Sandra, the pretty girl, but then I thought Kylieóbut in a way, theyíre kind of two halves of the same person, one who knows and sees, and one who doesnít. To me it was satisfying to make up a character who was there and remembered and could therefore learn and be changed by it, even though it wasnít a nice thing to learn.

Jun 17, 2015; Sam Wilhoite Asks:

Hi Stacey, First I want to say that I absolutely loved reading An Island of Boyfriends. My first questions is why do most of your stories tend to leave the narrators' name out until someone else mentions it? Or leave it out completely and totally. Second, why are 'the boyfriends' okay with the narrator sleeping with all of them? Is it because they just do not know any better? Third, how hard was it for you to write short stories that were so out of the norm? Did you receive a lot of criticism?

Stacey answers:

Hi Sam. The reason I tend to leave out the names of the first-person narrators in short stories is to foster a closer, more intimate point of view. I want it to be as though the narrator is telling their secret thoughts to their best friendóthe idea is to make it an outpouring, something with an urgency and familiarity thatís already beyond the moment of introductions. I have to tell you what happened. To add the name, for me, adds a false note. If the narratorís name comes up naturally Iíll use it, but it doesnít always come up. People actually donít say their own names very often in intense conversations, and a lot of people rarely even say their names aloud in their heads, preferring to refer to themselves as ďI.Ē

My fiction actually isnít out of the norm, I would say. Thereís a huge realm of fantasy and science fiction and horror and fairy tales and childrenís books, and many, many literary writers who portray a world that has only a passing resemblance to the real. Franz Kafka, John Cheever, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Isaac Babel, Roberto Bolano, Flannery OíConnor, Muriel Spark, even John Updike (in The Witches of Eastwick) create fictional worlds saturated with startling images and fairy tales and genre forms and the thick mire of their own brains. All fiction is a mixture of realism and dreamism. My mix tends to favor metaphor and the warp of perception over the concrete world of the senses, but that may change at any time.

So itís a kind of fairy tale. The boyfriends are okay with the narrator sleeping with all of them for the same reason that Cinderella is okay with the princeís willingness to sweep away her evil stepsisters. (This happens in the versions of the tale where the sisters lop off parts of their feet to fit in the slipper; the prince doesnít realize theyíve cheated until he finds blood all over the floor of the carriage.) I mean, that kind of sucks, that he would go off with the odious sisters and jilt Cinderella, even if he corrects this later. But Cinderella gives him another shot. Heís the only prince in town; no one else has the power to save her. The girl in ďAn Island of BoyfriendsĒ is like the prince; she has all the power. She can have whoever she wants. The guys donít really have much choice. What are they going to do? There arenít any other girls. She might be the last girl on earth. They need to stay on her good side if at all possible.

In any case, I think of my stories as being true and real in their own way. The incidents might be unlikely or impossible, but the emotional tenor is genuine. In the case of "An Island of Boyfriends," the starting point in the real, natural world is with people who canít love, or find love, no matter where they are and who they meet. I think the fear of oneís own emotional coldness is not an uncommon one among balky young women and men. Itís the worry that no one will ever be right because you're essentially unable to be satisfied with anyone, or a combination of anyones, because you're unfit to love, for all the reasons people end up being unfit to love. Someone like that might end up alone even on an island full of boyfriends.

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