Porcelain: A Guest Post
by Kelli Beck
by Kelli Beck
Three of the four stories I wrote for my part in Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales) I had written years ago and had thrown to the side because I thought they weren’t good. I was halfway to burning them all when it occurred to me that with a little bit of work, they would fit perfectly with the dark theme of the anthology. I picked up an old copy of Cough Syrup, threw the pages in the garbage, and started over again. I did the same with The Salesman. With both stories the protagonists came alive. They were real people, in a sense, and they had a story to tell. They were seeking something deeper, something to take away the bite of their everyday misery.
But I’m not here to talk about either of those stories. Today I want to talk to you about my personal favorite, Porcelain. I’m not proud of it because of its incredible literary merit or its unbridled uniqueness because, well, it’s not really either of those things. What makes that story so close to my heart is the journey it took me on, the life we lived together before it finally took shape.
I started Porcelain 13 years ago, when I was just a babe of 16 years old. Back then it was called The Porcelain Princess and was a fairy tale dealing with the perception of beauty and the effects of self-loathing. Basically it was a real pooper. What stuck with me was the ending, because that was pretty cool. So I rewrote it. Once, twice, three times. I used it for creative writing classes and talked about how someday I would make a novel out of it.
That was about the time I dropped out of school for the second time to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. I was going to start with Porcelain and it was going to be epic. I tried to write it as a novel another three times, each time stopping at page 40-50, the story dry, lacking meaning, and just all around pissing me off. So I tanked it. I said, “Look, it’s been nearly ten years and it hasn’t come to fruition. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
A couple years later I was pursuing the world wide web for short story magazines and came across Underneath the Juniper Tree (link: http://underneaththejuniperthreemag.com/) and read this:
My mother she killed me,
My father he ate me,
My sister, little Marlinchen,
Gathered together all my bones,
Tied them in a silken handkerchief,
Laid them beneath the juniper-tree,
Kywitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!
This resonated with me. I thought on it for a bit, horrified, then was struck with the story of Porcelain. It wasn’t meant to be a novel. It was meant to be a dark fairy tale—the darker the better. I set to work that very minute and finished the rough version of it within the hour.
It always amazes me how a story can beg for patience, lay dormant for so long, and then grab you and force you to put it to paper. I had a love/hate relationship with Porcelain and I’m happy to finally have it finished after all these years.
I am proud to announce that it had been deemed the “most disturbing of the lot.”
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