William T.

Second Place Winner

Well, I should begin by prefacing that it is not a book that really inspired me. It was a collection of collections of Gabriel Garcia Marquez stories. I was finished with a creative writing camp, and I had heard about Marquez. I got a copy of "Eyes of a Blue Dog", "The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother", and "Big Mama's Funeral" all in one volume by the same translator. It was a hot summer, and I remember reading it on my Dad's car porch swinging through the humid river-air, reading in a car waiting outside a hospital. Mostly what I remember was the heat and bright, evil afternoon sun coupled paradoxically with that rich darkness that fills Marquez's stories. "Nabo: The Black Man Who Made the Angels Wait" was one of my favorites, and "The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings". The serious, direct way he referenced death and angels, it was beautiful. It was filled with craft and subtlety that I had not seen before. This was a few years ago, and I still write. A little realistic fiction, some fantasy, a failed attempt at NaNoWriMo or two, but I was always scared to try magical realism. I did not know where to begin.

I do not know when or why exactly, but at some point I thought about fables and fairy tales. We never tell them with a lot of explanation. We do not say "he did not think to check her foot because he never thought she would cut it off to fit in the shoe", but we do in 'regular' fiction. Marquez did not tell me why things happened. He told me what happened. He did not tell me how, either. That was how I could write magical realism! So I sat down, and over a few days I wrote a small story better than anything I had written before. Instead of explaining things, or even describing them in overwhelming detail, I left them to simply be. It was amazing how hard it was not to explain why a burning man might run down a street every night at dusk, but it was exhilarating not to have to explain. The frank nature of magical realism made me shorten my thoughts, simplify, so that I could add more with fewer words. By reading Marquez, and learning about this style of writing, I have figured out a new and glorious way for me to write fiction! It will not change the world, I know, but it has changed mine.