Stories from the Workplace

dc.contributorQuillian, William
dc.contributorCrosthwaite, Jane
dc.contributor.advisorOsborn, Karen
dc.contributor.authorMaryeski, LeeAnn
dc.description.abstractMy collection of short stories has stemmed from a concept that I have struggled with in both my English and Politics courses here at Mount Holyoke College. The idea boils down to the concept of value. My short story collection rose out of my desire to explore what I felt was being ignored or neglected. In terms of literature, I was finding that most of the short stories I read often glossed over the workplace entirely. I set out, then, to write a collection of short stories that focused entirely on work, and, more specifically, focused on low-income jobs. In this way I thought I might be able to challenge who and what we value in our culture. One’s vocation, like one’s gender, race, creed, and/or sexuality, has become an identifying quality so that who we are has been reduced to what we do for a living. My initial intent was to focus on the ways in which a character may contradict the stereotypes associated with a job. However, the more I immersed myself in job training manuals and safety videos, the more I realized that a workplace can, in fact, begin to shape a character. While the characters I present are certainly not defined by their careers, they are at the very least revealed by them. The external demands of their jobs became a unique way to explore their internal psychology, and to highlight the tension that is often sparked between the two. In each of these stories I attempted to create characters that pushed against constraining stereotypes of their vocations so that my characters can be seen as more than a bus driver, a bar owner, a construction worker, a bus-girl, and an animal control officer. Throughout the composition of this work I read many influential authors. Reading Anton Chekhov’s “Ward No. 6” helped me to understand that what I was attempting to write about was a duality of character, or rather a schism between the external and internal. In addition to Chekhov, I was influenced by the writing of John Updike, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, and Eudora Welty. Reading, and at times attempting to imitate, each of these writers helped me to develop my own style. Since the stories within my collection are largely character-driven I found that I developed a habit of creating character maps. These character maps helped me to visualize the layers of narrative and character. For each story I drew out a chart similar to a spider-web that linked each main character to the peripheral one and helped to define both his/her fears and desires. Incidentally, what I found with many of my characters was that what they gravitated toward ironically coincided with that which they feared. At first I was puzzled by how counter-intuitive this seemed, but eventually I realized that for me writing has grown to be something I feared and desired in much the same way. Every time I sat down to write a story I was gripped with the same self-doubt that plagues us all, but my passion for writing persisted regardless, because any real and true passion is just that which fear cannot restrain us from doing. I think it is the combination of fear and desire within my characters that helps them to transcend the identities of their jobs.en_US
dc.rightsAttribution 3.0 Unported
dc.subjectshort storiesen_US
dc.titleStories from the Workplaceen_US
mhc.institutionMount Holyoke College


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