Hello!. I'm here to fill your review request. You said in your request that you were open to all sorts of feedback, including critique, so I'm going to try and cover as much as I can here, and hopefully some of it will be helpful to you. I should say upfront that this sort of style of writing (stream of consciousness/abstract-ish style) isn't something I write personally, or read a lot of, so much of what follows is going to be off the cuff/gut reaction sort of comments since I don't have a lot to compare it to.
First, I really appreciate on a lot of levels that you tried something new here. I think that alone is a win. There has to be a certain level of comfort and awareness of your own writing to be able to see outside the box. You really have to know your own writing voice to be able to set it aside for something totally different.
I really enjoyed your repeated references to distorted time. For a woman who's clearly detached from reality, both obsessed with what has passed and hyper-aware of certain features of her present, it makes a lot of sense that time has become an abstract concept for her, that she is neither stuck in the past, nor truly living in the present. So what does it matter to her if it's been a day, a week or a century since Tobias died, or he gave her those flowers, or when she arrived on the riverbank? The use of the words pastpresent and presentpast were incredibly effective at highlighting this disconnect, as were those few brief lines of italicized dialogue.
I also really liked the way you threaded the daffodils throughout the whole piece. They are the subject of the very first line yet I love how we don't know that until the very end. They are what she desired most and now come to represent all that she has lost. I'm not sure exactly what the flowers represent in your mind (greed? hubris? narcissism?), but I love the weight it adds to the piece.
You said in your request you wanted me to be totally honest, so I will say that there were some other things that didn't really work for me here. I think the main issue for me was that while the words sound appealing, they didn't connect with me on an emotional level. I felt a little like I was *supposed* to feel deeply moved because of the carefully crafted sentences instead of because I connected with what was happening on a human level. It got to the point for me where there were so many unusual phrases that it actually got in the way of what on its own was quite sad and moving. An old woman on a riverbank alone, pining over a lost love and the flowers she once wanted more than anything else is moving. I didn't feel like it needed all the other bells and whistles. It's like wearing plaid and stripes and polka dots all at once. Each piece can be beautiful on its own but altogether, it's too much for the eye and detracts from how powerful each piece is. It's not that I couldn't follow the story or appreciate that this isn't an A to B to C plot point kind of piece. And I would never be so arrogant as to think that just because I didn't connect to it, it is therefore not moving. I just wanted to be honest in saying that I think less would have been more for me here.
I feel like this isn't my best review. I'm better at commenting on the mechanics of a story than the emotion behind it. This is why I'll always be better at writing research papers than stories, I suppose. Still, it was definitely a nice treat to read something different and original. Your exercise in writing something new gave me the wonderful opportunity to read and review something new. I'm interested now in what other types of stories you've written and how this differs.
Thanks for the review request. Sorry I wasn't able to offer more concrete feedback.
Author's Response: Hello darling! Thank you so much for reviewing! I totally understand - SOC style, even poetic styles in general, aren't always a reader's cup of tea. Since I know this isn't something you read often or like, thank you again for reviewing!
Thank you for that! If I'm totally honest, I don't know if I am completely comfortable with my voice as a writer, but I felt that this was necessary. Does that make sense? I felt that I /needed/ to write this - perhaps it's another avenue in finding my natural voice.
I'm really glad you liked that! I was worried that readers wouldn't pick up on the distortion of time - it's not something you often see outside of the literary sphere. I was trying to channel my inner Faulkner (his Light in August is what got me to thinking about the distortion of time and construction of the past and present as one). I do hope you liked the italicized parts - it's sort of becoming my signature (my other newest story, "Come, Sugar" uses this sort of technique).
Ah, the daffodils! If I'm honest, that's a part of me in the story - daffodils are my /favorite/ flowers and I use them in basically everything. Maybe it's how I connect to the text without putting my whole self into it! :P As for what they represent to me, I'd like to keep that on the downlow - I know that's crazy, but I'm a HUGE advocate of writing a story that gives the readers a chance to interpret it in any way they see fit based on their perceptions, past experiences, emotional outlook, etc. I don't like giving my readers everything - make 'em work for it, I say - so as to my view of the daffodils, well, let's say they represent, in equal parts, love, hubris, grief, emotional turmoil, beauty, and death.
You know, the old me (as writer) would have been incredibly worried by that. I understand. For many, this kind of story isn't what works - it's too flowery and flashy - I'm only sorry that you didn't connect with this on most levels. I do try to reach most readers in some form or fashion. I do thank you for being honest with me - it's definitely something that I will consider as I continue to write. Your comments give me pause; I must consider further refining my technique and putting the most into a story without adorning it with so many bells and whistles.
Please don't worry! I think this was a fabulous review. I understand reading and reviewing this took you way out of your comfort zone, so thank you for taking the time to review my story.
Thank you so much! I really do appreciate it! :)