At Least the Geese Are Happy

Not my “lake,” but similar. From Wikimedia Commons

The old man upstairs is named Jack. He made a point of telling me this on my way back from writing on my favorite bench by the “lake.”

“Good morning, my name is Jack, and I hope all your dreams come true.”

He must have been watching me as he shuffled his way around the “lake,” stopping to peer at things, clucking at the geese. I know I was watching him.

“When do you think they’re going to finish this mess, eh?” He shook his head at the mud wallows, the rotted piles of bulkhead, the excavator quite content to sit there, not excavating. “My name is Jack, I am from New York, and I hate it here.”

A couple months ago, in the middle of another writing session on my bench, another man made it a point to interrupt me and tell me how disgusting my “lake” was.

“Excuse me, excuse me. We used to come here all the time, eight years ago. It used to be beautiful. Pardon my language, but what the hell happened?”

I’m so sorry, I wanted to tell him, that a lake you haven’t seen in eight years is bothering you so much. Come back in another eight years, maybe it’ll be done by then. But he seemed quite angry, so I didn’t think it wise to stir him up any more.

“You can’t let it get to you,” Jack told me. “Not even the traffic. Oy, the traffic! You have to figure out a way to make it good.”

The weather was so nice I wore a sweater, even in the full sun. I told him about riding Marta down to the High Museum of Art yesterday to see Girl With a Pearl Earring. It was much smaller than I thought it would be–both the painting and the exhibition. My husband, who’s from New Jersey, said Atlanta’s idea of public transportation is a joke.

I smiled at Jack, feeling somewhat proud of myself for having meaningful social interaction. “That’s why I sit on my bench, look out on this ruin and tell myself, well, at least the geese are happy with it.”

And the geese are happy. In fact, I think the geese are less bothered by excavators tearing up their home than we are.

(This is becoming an inspirational blog. Many apologies. I’ll try to work on it.)


I wrote over 2000 words of my WIP today. A very, very good day for me, especially since I finally introduced my gaggle of supporting characters, one of my least-favorite writing chores. Now onto the fun stuff.


Here is an article from The Rumpus that backs up my suspicions about fiction written to purport an “idea.” I prefer fiction that asks lots of questions, rather than trying to create definite answers. A lot of times, definite answers don’t leave much room for interpretation:

Fiction at its best is not often an argumentative form (the essay is a nice sturdy form if we have a persuasive argument to make). That’s not to say fiction can’t (and doesn’t) have ideas and arguments (though only the best can make this rise above propaganda), but fiction is largely a form of illustration and not explanation.



Filed under Uncategorized, writing

2 responses to “At Least the Geese Are Happy

  1. It is true that literary fiction, that fiction that focuses on character and asks a lot of questions, is finding a smaller and smaller audience. But I think the audience has always been small for such fiction in the United States. Still works of literary fiction continues to find an audience. More and more it is up to the writer, and not to the publisher, to find the audience. But this is a great age for the writer. There are so many ways for her to find that audience.All we writers can do is keep on keeping on. Doing what we’ve always done. Write as you are doing with this blog.

    • I think any fiction is capable of being exploratory rather than “persuasive,” which gives me hope for the future of fiction. As you said, there are many more ways for writers to find and build an audience, outside of traditional publishing. Anyone with an internet connection can find an audience, but that only makes it harder to stand out. Thankfully, I’m not interested in standing out above everyone. Reaching only a few people is fine with me as long as our connection is profound.

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