Research Notes · 06/02/2017

Some Of Us Glow More Than Others

Our Research Notes series invites authors to describe their process for a recent book, with “research” defined as broadly as they like. This week, Tania Hershman writes about Some Of Us Glow More Than Others from Unthank Books.

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1.

I show up. I wake up. I pitch up. I lift up. I look up. I set up. I stand up. I sit down. I sit up, I press on, I switch on, I switch off, I come back, I look back, I look up, I stand up, I see in, I see out, I see this and that, I take this, I leave that, I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it, I write, I unwrite, I overwrite, I underplay, I play, I think, I unthink, I undo, I do, I rest.

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2.

On the phone she orders test tubes. A machine for gel electrophoresis.1 I am in a lab, among scientists. I am the observer, on my stool as they fiddle with racks, rockers, a heating bath, a freezer and a fridge.2 I take notes. I ask questions. She has sent off for a line of HeLa cells.3 Once, in the middle of a conversation, I realised everyone in the lab had left. To work with their clear liquid, one poured into another, stirred, rocked, frozen, thawed, stirred, left, stirred. It takes hours.4

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3.

I show up. I write up. I make up. [Where did the nun come from? Emmylene tries on the lab coat over her habit.5 ]

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4.

I read.

         I read up,         across along, over and above.

                  I listen.

                           I watch.

                                    I read more.

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5.

When it comes to the line, the line is a sentence. [Poetry likes lines; fiction loves the sentence.] I sentence, without thinking about sentence. I character, without planning. [Fiction loves voices, poetry is sometimes.] Begin. The first day is starting, blankness. Later, if there are no summary executions, if all characters survive, if story is allowed, there may be unfolding, revelation.

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5.

When it comes to the line, the line is a sentence . [Poetry likes lines; fiction loves the sentence.] I sentence, without the thinking about sentence. I character, without planning. [Fiction loves voices, poetry is sometimes.] Begin. The first day is starting, blankness. Later, if there are no summary executions, if all characters survive, if story is allowed, there may be unfolding, revelation.

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5.

When it comes to the line, the line is a sentence. [Poetry likes lines; fiction loves the sentence.] I sentence, without the thinking about sentence. I character, without planning. [Fiction loves voices, poetry is sometimes.] Begin. The first day is starting, blankness. Later, if there are no summary executions, if all characters survive, if story is allowed, there may be unfolding, revelation.

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5.

                  Begin. The first day there are no summary executions.6

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6.

I travel to places of past wars, have lived in places of now-war, have reported on not that, reported on science and technology, on the newnesshopeoptimismdiscovery of it, but saw blood, heard explosions. [When I say “I”, do you believe me? Believe me.]

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7.

In the laboratory: cells. In the laboratory: the radio. In the laboratory: 12.03pm. He sits at the microscope counting bacteria. He hears her coming. She stands by his bench.7 In the laboratory: me. And then: not me.

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8.

Begin. It begins with birds in flight.8

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9.

Begin. Am I missing my liar? she says.9

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10.

Begin. The first one they blinded bumped and banged her way through the burrow, emerging bruised, blinking.10

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11.

One year, I begin one thing and then another and then another. That year, I finish, maybe. Or undo. Or abandon. Years pass. Words sit very still drowning in the feeling of being the imaginary lover of an imaginary man.11

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12.

Over the years, the flavours they* chose varied.12

[*I]

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13.

Never end with thirteen.

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14.

Science, yes, certainly. Love? Perhaps. Death and life. Answers? No. Questions: many. People: many. Places: not so located, not mapped. Length: short, short short, shorter than you expect, less short, slightly longer than than. [Birds, octopuses, mice, moles, squirrels, jellyfish, dragonfish. Babies, curates, nuns, researchers, dancers, painters, sculptors, doctors, statisticians.]

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15.

         Real?         No.

         Real?         Yes.

         Real.         Maybe.

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1. “God Glows,” by Tania Hershman, from Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, Unthank Books, 2017, p. 7.
2. “God Glows,” p. 7.
3. “God Glows,” p. 9.
4. “God Glows,” p. 9.
5. “God Glows,” p. 9.
6. “The Special Advisor,” p. 39
7. “Experimentation,” p. 130.
8. “It Begins With Birds in Flight,” p. 4.
9. “Missing my Liar,” p. 5.
10. “Burrowing Blind,” p. 21.
11. “Dissolving,” p. 101.
12. “Flavours,” p. 112

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Tania Hershman’s third short story collection, Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, is published in the UK by Unthank Books, and her debut poetry collection, Terms & Conditions, will be published by Nine Arches Press in July 2017. Tania (www.taniahershman.com) is also the author of a poetry chapbook, and two short story collections, and co-author of Writing Short Stories: A Writers’ & Artists’ Companion (Bloomsbury, 2014). Tania is curator of ShortStops, celebrating short story activity across the UK & Ireland.