Authors always wonder if we’re making connection. Here’s a sweet letter from a reader:
“Hi! A couple months ago I came across your short fiction story “Dispersal” inside a collection of short fiction from the Midwest. I absolute loved the feelings i got from “Dispersal”. I had a question for you. I’m writing a paper on this short fiction and was hoping you could tell me why you wrote it? What gave you the idea to write dispersal? I’ve been looking into a lot of your short stories inside “Sweet Land” story collection.”
Thanks for the nice note. “Dispersal” is one of my favorite, early short stories. There’s a lot going in a short space. It’s one of the best in the collection https://willweaverbooks.com/books/sweet-land/ .
Why did I write it? I had gone to a farm auction. This was during a time when a lot of farmers were losing their land, and I was struck by how terribly sad the auction was. But people came any way, and got things for a “steal.”
In the story I took a big risk by referencing a very literary poem at the end, W. H. Auden’s ‘Musee’ de Beaux Arts.’ Sometimes that kind of departure from a story can wreck its continuity. But it felt right, and I’m glad I did it. The poem was about how we respond to other peoples’ suffering. In the story my farmer wanted to comfort the man who was selling a implement for a “steal.” But he just couldn’t bring himself to offer true words of comfort. That particular scene, when the two men are trying to communicate, is the heart of the story, I think. It’s where all the feeling lies.
So I’m glad you found and responded to the story. Your “feelings” where just what I was hoping for—a connection to the characters in story. I’m always trying for universal theme in my writing, in this case, how to respond when people are hurting.
P.S. Do you know my story “A Gravestone Made of Wheat” ? It was made into the movie Sweet Land. You might like both. http://www.sweetlandmovie.com/