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  • Hey folks, here’s my submission for The New Middle Review:

    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1cY2xC7zffa998ALIVB54DV2-s7OBMn0X1Zx603OvIz0

    I would be glad to get some feedback, which I’d incorporate into a second draft.

    Also, I really need a different title for it.

  • downloading now, will read tonight!

  • I approve.

    My big suggestion - possibly contentious - is that I think you could lose the italicised bit near the end; I feel like, for me, it’s one jump too many for the reader to follow and stay inside the mood/feeling you’re constructing. It might be as simple as ending the section immediately before it with “he will not survive” and then just deleting everything in italics, leaving the “she” bits intact. It retains that half-connection between the two, without adding in the wholly foreign setting and risking knocking the reader out of it.

    For me this piece is almost a poem about breakups; I guess it’s exactly what you frame in the opening sections - the remembering, the forgetting, the pieces of yourself that you lose and the things that you can’t just stop caring about or the habits you don’t just magically snap out of. The confusion it causes for your body even as your brain is forever claiming to be processing it and understanding it. I like it a lot, especially on a second reading.

    I would like to cut a few of the parentheses (one in brackets and a couple that are nudged into sentences between commas) and a couple of bits that seek to explain or summarise what’s happening or heighten its significance, because I’m not sure it’s necessary and at times it feels a little like you are placing undue emphasis on things to the detriment of the piece’s mood as a whole. I can highlight specific bits if you like, but I think it’s more about how many of them there are - only very slightly too many, to be fair. The general idea I’m getting at is that fairly common idea that you can’t have every sentence be the star of the show, because it dampens the overall impact. I’m conscious, though, that some of this suggestion is talking about my own aesthetic preferences, and so I’m nervous about how useful it is as commentary on your work. Obviously I’ve decided to write it anyway, in the hope that you understand what I’m getting at anyway, and you’ll make your own decisions about what use it is to you in a redraft.

    Okay, stupid point this one, but I don’t like extra line breaks between paragraphs (unless they are acting as the section delimiters between groups of paragraphs, but you have asterisks serving that purpose). I mean, evidently in forum posts I like them, but apparently not in fiction.

    I love the line “lightning courses through my veins searching for a ground….light and heat and sound”. I think you should change “she once wrote” to “she writes” and keep it in the same present tense as the rest of the section. The feeling is more powerful for me without the distance that that past tense framing gives it.

    So yes, I approve of this story. I think you are right that you need a new title. My suggestion? “Smoke”.

    Hope some of that’s useful to you, and of course feel free to tell me I’m wrong about any of it (or just decide I’m wrong and not tell me, if you prefer!)

  • alistair said: I approve.

    For me this piece is almost a poem about breakups; I guess it’s exactly what you frame in the opening sections - the remembering, the forgetting, the pieces of yourself that you lose and the things that you can’t just stop caring about or the habits you don’t just magically snap out of. The confusion it causes for your body even as your brain is forever claiming to be processing it and understanding it. I like it a lot, especially on a second reading.

    I love the line “lightning courses through my veins searching for a ground….light and heat and sound”. I think you should change “she once wrote” to “she writes” and keep it in the same present tense as the rest of the section. The feeling is more powerful for me without the distance that that past tense framing gives it.

    So yes, I approve of this story. I think you are right that you need a new title. My suggestion? “Smoke”.

    Quoting ^ ^ for truth.

    I also mightily approve. I just think, as I nearly always do, that it could be trimmed a bit. Not sure where yet… planning to give it another read and maybe something will jump out.

  • Thanks guys! I like the title suggestion, and I agree that it could be tightened up a bit. I don’t agree w/ cutting the last bit—it feels really important to me, though I’m not 100% certain that I could articulate a defense of it.

    The extra line breaks are not a stylistic choice so much as a product of being written and formatted on my computer. I’m pro paragraph indents, though I do feel that they work better on the printed page than they do online.