Ayana Mathis: Joy demands care in the writing

Sylvia Serrado @ F-Stop Magazine

Ayana Mathis considers an undervalued literary experience at Lambda Literary.
It is possible to take an animal’s heart, a rat’s is a likely candidate, and wash it of all of its cell matter, until all that remains is the matrix of a heart — not beating, not living. It is also possible to revive this dead heart with an injection of living stem cells — if the experiment is successful the cells will grow in the “ghost” heart and it will beat again. This reanimation occurred for the first time in the laboratory of stem cell pioneer Dr. Doris Taylor. She and her colleagues watched over the umpteenth cadaver heart on which they had attempted their experiment. Suddenly someone cried, “Doris, it’s beating!”
The rat heart, pulsing in its dish, had transformed from a glop of tissue into a living thing. I listened to Dr. Taylor tell her story on the radio one evening and felt a kind of awe of the miraculous. I began to think about how dead things become living ones, or shells become whole — on a smaller and less life or death scale, of course, I’m no Doris Taylor. In fiction, plot and theme and character are dead things, skeletons brought to life by an infusion of what is most essential in the writer. This vitality fills the empty chambers of a plot outline and inhabits the spirits and bodies of the characters.read more