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The last portrait made me stop to take a second look. Unlike the other monks, this one was gazing directly out at the viewer. His face was painted in the standard Yamato-e style, just lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose, but there was something strangely expressive about the minimalist painting: a slight tension in the angle of his eyes, one hand holding a brush in midair, as if hesitating.
The bald little monk stared up at me out of his portrait, as if he were trying to speak to me. The plaque beneath the painting read:
Monk Anchin (1244-1316)
Collection of Seitokuji, 14th century, artist unknown
There was no background or architectural detail in the plain portrait, but there was a lit candle-stand beside him, a common pictorial convention for depicting nighttime. Why would the artist take pains to portray Anchin, unlike the other poets, writing by candlelight?
The Dream Diary of Monk Anchin – Felicity Drake
The Forest of New People – Thom Connors
Time’s Arrow – C. Heidmann
The Stars Don’t Lie – R.W.W. Greene
Vanessa Fogg dreams of selkies, dragons, and gritty cyberpunk futures from her home in western Michigan. She spent years as a research scientist in molecular cell biology, and now works as a freelance medical writer. She drinks copious amounts of green tea.
Q: When do you decide a story is finished?
A: I’ll admit that I’m drawn to writing that is (or seems) fragmentary, so I might be in a bad position to identify when a story is finished.
But that’s not a real answer, so here’s another attempt: I know I’m approaching the finish of a story when certain recurring motifs begin to feel less like flourishes, and more like they are essential to the structural integrity of the whole story.
Molly Etta’s story “Solomon and the Dragon’s Tongue” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 20 May 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Dan Micklethwaite lives about forty minutes away from so-called Brontë Country, in West Yorkshire, UK, and whilst secretly hoping for a region to be likewise renamed after him in the future, he doesn’t really fancy his chances. He consoles himself with fine books and good food, and the occasional bottle of single malt scotch.
Dan Micklethwaite’s story “Mr. McAvennie’s Freedom” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 27 May 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.