Student: Tom Trunzo
Consultant: Hope Harris
Title: Ciao Barbara
Inspired by my great-aunt Barbara Landi I have created six creative short stories. There is no pervading theme that unifies each of the stories, as each one is different, and cannot adequately be summarized by me telling you the plot or the theme or such elements. I studied and was influenced by the works of Flannery O’Connor, John Cheever, Eudora Welty. I supplemented the project by drawing and writing entries, reflections, thoughts, ideas etc. in a process folio. I’ve completed my goal of creating six stories in total and have learned something in the process.
There's nothing extraordinary or remarkable about how I went about writing my stories. Often I worked for about four hours a day, and during this time took many breaks, was distracted by something (whether it be squirrels or my brother), and read a considerable amount of work by many writers. I found that I worked slowly, which helped none, and that I needed to write in order to know how the story was going to build.
For my senior project I wrote six short stories as part of a collection called Ciao Barbara. Originally, I had only the idea to write stories, but as time progressed and the project developed more throughly, I found that my great aunt's presence was stronger than I'd ever known it to be and, in the end, the collection was dedicated to and inspired by her.
I began this project last spring, when I drafted some preliminary ideas and met with Shelby, my mentor, in June. However, the only definite detail was that I was going to write; beyond this everything was hazy. I decided to relax during the summer, maybe draft a story or to, and do a good deal of reading. Out of my own volition, I ordered The Complete Short Stories of Flannery O'Connor and The Stories of John Cheever, but I never drafted any material during the summer.
When I got back to school in September, Shelby and I sat down immediately and hammered out a clear and more detailed senior project outline/proposal. He gave me a list of books to read, which included books on writing, contemporary works, and classic works. Following this I started reading some of these works and began writing.
My first turned out to be a disaster. It was
nicely written, but was a terrible story. I hadn't written creative work since
the ninth grade because I had a similar experience of writing something
completely awful, and suddenly I was plagued and demoralized with fears of
writing terrible stuff. However, I started forward inevitably and just kept
By the Fourth story I began emulating Southern Gothic style. Southern Gothic style has exaggerated, flawed – often called grotesque – characters and, like its parent genre Gothic, has ironic, unusual, or supernatural dramatic action. Heavily influenced by Flannery O'Connor, I began to write in the southern Gothic genre. My fourth, fifth, and sixth stories were all written in this genre.
After finishing these stories, I went about
the editing process with whatever little time I still had (being relatively new
to creative writing had rendered me severely incapable of judging how much time
each process of the project would take). I found that editing is a tedious, but
rewarding process. I don't like criticism or seeing my stories hacked and
slashed with red ink, but in the end, I realized it only made the stories
better and that I'm grateful to everyone that helped me edit sufficiently. I
believed, as did
Ultimately, after editing, I had overcome most of my obstacles: being new to creative fiction, pressing on despite distractions, understanding writing and the process, reading night, and the revisions process. However, my last challenge was the presentation and thankfully it went much better than I could have ever imagined or hoped it to have gone. I hope to continue creative writing in the future, to whatever degree it may be – though I have my doubts of it as a profession.
I'm pleased with the final product, each story is strong, has potential, and is not yet finished (I don't believe that art can never be completed). And, despite my initial fears of writing complete rubbish, I ended up with a good collection of stories.
Annotated Works Consulted
Arp, Thomas R. and Greg Johnson.
Cheever, John. The Stories of John
Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life.
Gardner, John. The Art of Fiction.
Malamud, Bernard. The Magic Barrel.
O'Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories
of Flannery O'Connor.
O'Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners.
Welty, Eudora. On Writing.
Community Member (Details)
My community member, Hope Harris, is a friend of my mother's side of the family and was someone I wasn't especially familiar with. It wasn't until the summer that I learned that she was a freelance writer (she works in real estate), who has written for several newspapers and runs a literary group down at Ashawagh Hall in Springs. After finishing “The Fruit of the Spirit” and the “Dragonfly”, I left copies of them at the real estate building where Hope works. Shortly after, she read the stories and told me she had typed up some feedback for me, which I gathered the next day. A few weeks later, I gave her a copy of my third story, “Red Runners”. Again, I received her criticisms and thoughts concerning the work, and immediately set about revising my work. Despite my resentment to criticism, her comments and observations were perceptive and only made my work stronger in the end. I invited her to my reading and presentation, however, she wasn't able to make either. Ultimately, she believed that the stories had potential and that I had a gift, and I'm pleased that I chose Hope for my community member.