Grant Jarrett’s story, “A Perfectly Reasonable Request,” appeared in the July 2013 issue of Eclectica Magazine. He was kind enough to share some thoughts about his writing life, and the origins of his story.
“The odd, inappropriate comment from a pretty girl in grade school, the young woman who was somehow unable to discern that Young Frankenstein was a comedy, and waking up with the seductive six-foot-tall blonde with a history of psychological problems: these unrelated moments were all appropriated from my life and strung together to help create a story that ultimately had little to do with any of them. I simply utilized them as writing prompts, though each one, I believe, serves a purpose in the finished story. With these events, a reasonably clear picture of the protagonist, and a sense of what he believed his goal to be, I had the seeds of a narrative. But it was only through the process of moving forward, allowing this man to respond to the obstacles, both within himself and without, that the story emerged.
Although there are substantial differences in scope and approach, A Perfectly Reasonable Request bears more resemblance to my upcoming novel, Ways of Leaving, than any other story I’ve written. They share unhappy protagonists who don’t quite know what it is they’re seeking, protagonists who are alone, out of touch, habitually self-destructive and difficult to like, and they share the odd, sometimes unsettling mix of humor and pathos that has always appealed to me as a reader. Of course they are different stories about different people in different circumstances, but there are certainly some stylistic and thematic similarities.
Like these two protagonists, I’m not always certain of my own motivations but, if my intuition can be trusted, a primary impetus when I write fiction is the desire to evoke in others the sense of wonder, the genuine tears, the uninhibited laughter, the introspection, the insight, the wealth of thought and feeling literature has elicited in me.
Beyond that, I’ve always been fascinated by human nature; by the vast range of behaviors we demonstrate, the unexpected acts of kindness, the inexplicable bursts of violence; by our capacity to build or destroy, to give or take; by the disparate forces that drive us, the random events that redirect our lives and that provoke in us the worst, the best, and every possibility in between.
It’s my desire to illuminate some overarching truth(s) about who we are and in the process evoke honest emotion or introspection that generates the gravity that keeps me rooted to my chair, staring, often for hours at a time, at the silently damning image of a page on a screen. Serving as fuel for this absurd and terminally impractical endeavor are those rare, wonderful moments when some generous and possibly drunken stranger offers a hint of evidence that I’ve at least partially succeeded. Well, that and pounds of dark chocolate.”