Guest blog on the concept behind "Algernon and the Narcissus," a short story by Die$el
Based on a true experience two months ago, “Algernon and the Narcissus” by Die$el is a short memoir that tells of a young Asian American man's confrontation with the police for writings that were deemed unusually dark and cruel for his age. In four simple passages, the reader becomes immersed in the troubles that the protagonist faced for his writing after the infamous Virginia Tech incident in 2007, the effort and failure to change his image in a social journalism college class, and the ultimatum that the protagonist faces after his detainment: stop his one true passion or risk destroying the lives of those he loves the most.
“Algernon and the Narcissus” didn’t start out as a short story “idea” for me. It was more of something that I had to write for myself. The form, while important, took a backseat to the content in the beginning. The experience was something I wanted to write when I was little, but I brushed off because I thought it was an incidental thing. However, after repeated experiences similar to the first one, I began to find enough energy and passion/pain to write a personal story like this.
Writing the story itself took me a good eight hours, and thirty more to edit. People don’t get how hard it is to write a short story. A novel takes stamina to write, yes, but the quality of writing takes a backseat to the story itself. A short story doesn’t take as much stamina to write and takes less time to make more cohesive, but the quality of writing must be extremely strong throughout. In my opinion, it takes much more stamina to write a good novel, but it takes much more talent to make a short story something deep and thought-provoking. There are only so many words in a short story, after all.
I believe this story was best told in short form because it was a glimpse into a different side of me. It was not enough to expand into a novella, but it was too much for flash fiction. Short story worked best in this case. In general, I think I prefer to read and write short stories because they are focused and do not deviate much from one overarching theme. In my piece, I intertwined two themes, my service work in my social justice writing class as well as my past troubles. The themes go deep without needing to go any broader than they have to.