simple vs complicated prose

I’m in that stage right when I need to decide how I want to write.  Everyone says, simplify. Don’t try to sound writerly. Be yourself.  Don’t try so hard.  To some extent I agree.  However that’s hard for me because the more time I spend on something, the more garbled or more complicated it ends up.  So that might suggest, I shouldn’t think so hard on the edits. But the my first drafts are shitty. So I’m in a quandary.

Take the first two hundreds words or so of something I’m working on. This was the first draft, no pre-planning, no edits. Just pure energy here.

The assistant had asked Anton if he wanted an inscription on the cake.  The question had Anton in stitches as he looked over the glittering display of baked goods.

“How much  extra is that?” he asked.

“No charge.”

He thought a cursive incriscription mwould beperfect. ‘happy birthday Bruce, and many steaks to ya’ perfect for him but not for Bruce. The surly African-american – hated the birthdays, much less obvious cakes to reminded his death day loomed closer.

Anton asked for the cake clean of inscriptions, if possible he would have asked for it to clean of any aura of loving care.  It would send the wrong signal, rather it would ill-fit the benign insouciance that had settled on their relationship of seven years.

A cake, a case of craft beer, and a pack of floss picks completed the groceries.  He was opening the door of car when a fierce wind blew dust, grit, pollen over the windshield.  He could see the dry leaves roll over the oil slicks left on the grounds.  And in an instant, his mind expanded, warped and sheared over a apparition—the great tree of Angrador, the its leaves of magnesium-blue flame and the fruits hanging like massive lanterns during a Chinese New Year celebration.  Roots curled over his digits, stretched and spiraled over his biceps and clawed its pin tendrils up his wattle.  He stood naked to a wind of longing, for the ecstasy for the Angrador, to climb up its branches and be one with its life-force.

I think there isn’t much atmosphere.The description is thin. but it gets to a point. now I don’t how complicated that sounds to you.  I think it lacks overall.  And I hate the name Bruce.

It was Easter Sunday.  Whatever of life and death, sacrifice and the resurrection were subsumed by the festering jubilation  in the grocery store.  Buy one get one free rabbit-sized bonbons, seventy percent off honey-glazed ham, perhaps one could prevision death and its runny afterbirth on the scarlet leaves of the poinsettias gracing the gardening aisle.

The open-faced fridge billowed the cold and the diarrheic glimmer of beer bottles and sale price placards before Anton tightening his folded arms across his chest.  The titanium bangles felt icy against his scarred wrists. Something itched, rather wriggled underneath the bare squamous scars. Ratcheting the cool metal over his wrists, Anton regretted the short sleeves of his tshirt, and the white brush of hairs over his arms as well.  But what of beer, he thought.

And oh yes, beer. Brown bottle, green bottle. Gold foil cap, slovenly monk with apricot cheeks. Anton reached for the default choice of the past seven years: the case of all-American swill refreshing crisp lager. Emu preferred it and Anton preferred to prefer Emu’s tastes, but he paused midway into the gelid air drying his eyes. Easter was an occasion for something different, he thought, something of spring, leastways a renascence for better beer. And what perhaps of the all-Japanese swill or the all-Chinese swill—How now beer from the middle kingdom of el-cheapos?

Stupefied over the foreign trade deficit, Anton grabbed the house favorite.  He perambulated the aisles like a geriatric whale, no more content, no less disinclined to feel disappointed in himself or trade deficits.

Perhaps a different brand of mustard? Emu bought the mustard. Or the organic, natural, non-flouride, non-sweetened


That is the second draft.  I changed bruce to Emu for a reason though. We are nowhere near the hook of the angrador tree. It has more atmosphere. But perhaps I have garbled something that was working? I have no idea. You decide.


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