Probably more than any other single piece, Alice Walker's short story "Flowers" has proved critical in my writing, and my understanding of what I want out of my writing. And I feel like every couple months, I basically write something that I recognize later as my attempt at writing "Flowers." XD I'll probably keep at this for all eternity, because anything I do will never be "Flowers," but maybe, one day, will hopefully be something satisfying to me in a similar but differentiable way.
What "Flowers" absolutely just rocks is the idea of a quiet horror. Expansive and unspeakable, and more than that, to powerful it is unnecessary to speak. I feel like a lot of the time, we end up considering things that are more splashy, more expansive, more extreme, by default more horrific. And the more baroque the language, the more heinous the visual, the more extended the experience (40 YEARS OF HELL), the more emblematic of the genre we consider these things to be. But "Flowers" does more with less, and I am so deeply on board with that project. And I want to be a part of that project. I want to be able to do the thing where there's this tiny infinitesimal thing that happens, and that alone gets the fucking job done. That's what I aspire to.
By which I mean to say, if you haven't read "Flowers," RECTIFY THIS IMMEDIATELY. It's a short 586 words (all of which are perfection).
Pros: I don't know that I can actually judge this of myself, but I felt like Anne-Marie's backstory and her personhood came together well here. It made me feel like she had a life beyond 10x01, and beyond the scope of these 900 words. I like the way she makes reference to all of these pieces of her life that stick out in her mind as important, in a way that allows the reader to recognize this capacity of backstory in her, without feeling like it's all just infodump. The oblique violences in this piece, I liked quite a bit. I'm really fond of thirteen- and sixteen-year old Anne-Marie, especially. I wanted to build on Anne-Marie's relationship with Dean without her really focusing that much on Dean as a guy she's known, because I felt like what was most striking about her interactions with him was how much he clearly fit into her paradigm of human (rather than otherworldly) behavior--and by extension, how that inclusion might guide our reading of demon!Dean, apart from Anne-Marie.
Cons: Well... it's not "The Flowers"? XD I wrote this really because I had this bizarre desire (though no less bizarre than this summer's earlier bizarre desire to have Layla Rourke's mom kiss demon!Dean, let's be real) for Anne-Marie to head out to the woods and happen upon Fishing Angel's remains. But I feel like that piece of this fic and all the Anne-Marie leading up to it didn't actually work in conversation with each other was well as I might have hoped.
Were I to revise this piece (which I am not), I'd expand two things:
1) What Anne-Marie means by "girls and men like Dean." There's really just not enough context for the line to fly, really? So rather than evoke that aforementioned paradigm it's actually just more like "uh, what?" XD And I think what this really needs is an illustration of the "girls and" part, since none of the scenes really involve other women, and the various characters Anne-Marie makes reference to don't actually fulfill that role in any legible way. Unless we extrapolate a LOT with the car scene and her mother, but that asks too much generosity of the reader.
2) Anne-Marie's relationship to the church. Which I think might go a long way in bringing her backstory and the final scene with Fishing Angel's wings (which, canonically, I suppose he shouldn't have? or they should be all fucked up like Gadreel's, at least?) into actual conversation with one another. Right now all there is this this too-late line about how Fishing Angel's deathspace "smells like ash and church." Which I kind of like, but it needs an...antecedent, or something. Dean, and Dean's relationships with Anne-Marie and with Castiel, were meant to be that bridge initially, but I don't know if I actually followed that through. (The idea was that when an angel dies, something happens to the space. And Castiel's thoughts--his inner tumult over fucking with Fishing Angel's freedom, and waaay back in the day, also Dean's [and his concern over in what way he might have contributed to Dean's ultimate fate] get locked in the air that Anne-Marie, later, can still hear and feel in the space.)
The image usage at the end is probably so kitschy and like, the antithesis of what "Flowers" is. I suppose my decision to include it really just demonstrates the weakness of this fic in terms of pulling a "Flowers," haha! :P Overall, though, I actually really love this. The language of it is distinctive and there's something about this iteration of Anne-Marie that feels very real, at least to me.
Edit: Oh my god, this is even more derivative of "Flowers" than I thought it was, re-reading Walker's story now. XD I haven't actually read it since 2005. TRY A LITTLE HARDER TO PLAGIARIZE WHY DON'T YOU, KALLIEL.
Do you guys have a "Flowers" in your writing life???