We are, to a degree, what we read and who we know.

I started on a new story yesterday that examines the human condition in regard to pride, greed, narcissism, and revenge. As I thought about it, I realized there are six strong influences on this particular story. Mostly, particular characters. Sometimes secondary characters. Sometimes something more tonal. Vaguely, some of the plots. Aspects of each are helping inform the story I’m working on.

“Adam and Eve” (Book of Genesis)
Death in a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
Noon Wine” by Katherine Anne Porter
Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw
The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” by Mark Twain

In life, I’ve had an extraordinarily colorful array of clients, students, and friends. Ridiculously wealthy people who are amazingly good people. Arrogant poor people. Surprisingly kind criminals. People who kept their humor at the height of their greatest stress and people who crumbled even when things are going well. Some of my characters are being pulled from that well.

The seven deadly sins, a traditional list within Christianity and art of the core vices of mankind, are going to be worked in: Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, Wrath. Scholars and theologians might argue about what should be on any given list, but I think we can all agree that the ones listed above are not exactly the better sides of humanity.

It’ll take some work to get this one right. My goal is not to make it a depressing story. Rather, I want it humorous if not a bit glorious.

I love writing. I get to build a micro world. Nothing complex like “The Lord of the Rings.” Short stories traditionally have very few settings and very few characters. However, as I imagine this, I can walk into their world as a silent observer, recording what I see and telling their tale as it happens.

Some say they do not love writing, but love having written. They love the finished product. They like to look back and think what a good thing that is. I understand, but there’s an element of sadness at the end for me. When the story is finished the story is finished. My characters typically don’t show up ever again. I don’t write series or sequels. Whether my character dies or lives in the story doesn’t change the fact that they will not continue to live. As such, when I am able to say, “I have written that story,” I must also say goodbye to those characters and those places. I’m looking forward to this story, but I recognize there will be a strange goodbye at the end.