Smoking With Brian Gaolor

Read the Story March 15, 2004

Did you find it challenging to write from Sergeant’s point-of-view?

Actually, I think of this story as being from Willy’s point of view. Did I find it hard to ‘be’ Willy? A little. It’s a fictional situation, and I’m a long way from my childhood. I tried to imagine how a kid who grew up in that, who considered a household like that normal, would act. Challenging in a good way; it let me get out of myself.

What inspired this story?

It’s a sort of myth, really. I’m a dog owner, so I’m unduly fascinated by dogs. Most of them make a big production of scratching the dirt after they go to the washroom, but their accuracy tends to be quite bad. So I got to thinking about the scratching as a relic, an instinct they kept that they didn’t really understand anymore. From there, I thought of the myths that all cultures tell to explain their ancient ways, and came up with Raptus Brisk as a dog myth.

Are you more Willy or Sergeant—how much of you is in this story?

I guess I’m stuck with some responsibility for both, since I wrote them. But Sergeant is based on one of my own dogs. She’s a female, and actually has two eyes, but she does this curmudgeonly old dog routine that inspired Sergeant. By default, I guess I’m more like Willy, though I have only rather vague memories of being a kid.

What attracted you to write flash fiction vs. other forms of writing?

I like the challenge. Novels are hard in the sense that you have to write all those words, and stick with one project for so long, but flash is harder in its own way because it’s less forgiving. If you’ve only a few words to convey character, setting, plot, and resolution, there’s no room for waste. It’s closer to writing poetry, because each word counts for so much. Yeah, I guess I write flash because I’m a poet who likes grammar and complete sentences.

If you could not write, what would be your creative outlet?

I spent years as a personal trainer, and actually didn’t write much during that time. Now that I’m not training, I’m writing again. I hadn’t thought of this before now, but maybe the two are substitutes for me. I suspect that I would craft bodies if I couldn’t craft stories.

About the Author:

Brian Gaolor is a graduate student with a couple dogs and too little time to read fun stuff. He squeezes in writing when he can.