On Writing ‘CartWheeling’ | Jay Merill

9df06d9642b154c41a08c2bd3ecd686fI am just starting to write a whole collection of stories set in a mythic space which I’m calling The Botanical Gardens and I’m delighted by the response so far: Acceptance of ‘CartWheeling’ by The Lonely Crowd and the second story by Unthank Books for Unthology 10. Existential and moral issues are the themes which seem to be prevalent and it is gratifying to feel that I’m writing about questions people may find interesting.

And I so much enjoyed writing ‘CartWheeling’ as it expressed something I really wanted to say about choice, decision and resolution. How do you choose between different possibilities, especially opposite possibilities? There are moments when someone may feel completely daunted and unable to take action of any kind. At such a time how do you go forward and resist inertia? The character in this story is plagued by indecision. She is standing in the road between two gateways to the Gardens and feels unable to select which to approach. Behind the inability lies the fear perhaps, of what she will find when she reaches either one. Will she have made the wrong decision?

Two parallel realities, the ordered and the wild, direct opposites, confront the protagonist as she hovers there at the kerbside. But it isn’t just the Botanical gateways which are the torment, the matter goes much further than that. I constructed the Botanical Gardens with these two gates, one each side of the road, to highlight the dichotomy.

Living in a binary world in which right and wrong are clearly articulated the character feels a sense of failure at being unable to fathom which is the right way forward in her life. She is desolate, even when at home, the spectre of the binary dominating her thought processes and causing her to sink into a terrible listlessness. So how does the she resolve the difficulty, or rather, the seeming impossibility of making her choice? Which way is right, which wrong? The story comes to an end with this question remaining unanswered but with a different kind of resolution taking place.

The aesthetic beauty of bodily movement frees the protagonist from the crisis which has overtaken her. She can breathe, can move. There’s a harmony of being; a glory. All the aspects of self are gathered into oneness. It is a re-articulation of what the moment means. We see her restored to the now as she works through the stages of the cartwheel.

Fiction by Jay Merill is recently published or forthcoming in 3 AM Magazine, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Bunbury Magazine, The Casket of Fictional Delights, Crannog Magazine, Flight Journal, The Galway Review, Litro, Minor Literature[s], The Nottingham Review, Platform for Prose, The Pygmy Giant, Story Shack and TMO Magazine. Jay is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. She has 2 short story collections published by Salt (Astral Bodies and God of the Pigeons) and is the winner of the Salt Short Story Prize. Jay lives in London and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing.

Copyright © Jay Merill, 2016. Image © Jo Mazelis, 2016.