You know that you are a writer if you are imaginative. You know that you are a writer if you are curious. You know that you are a writer if you are interested in the things and people of the world. You know that you are a writer if you hold a minie ball in your hand and wonder about its story. You know that you are a writer if you like the sound of rain on the roof. And if you want to tell someone else about your heart and how waiting for the thunder sometimes makes you feel, if you work to find the words to do that, then you are a writer. -Maureen O'Toople in the short story "Your Question for Author Here
Hundreds of men crowded the yard, and not a one among them was whole. They covered the ground thick as maggots on a week old carcass, the dirt itself hardly anywhere visible. No one could move without all feeling it and thus rising together in a hellish contortion of agony. Everywhere men moaned, shouting for water and praying for God to end their suffering. They screamed and groaned in an unending litany, calling for mothers and wives and fathers and sisters. The predominant color was blue, though nauseations of red intruded throughout. Men lay half naked, piled on top of one another in scenes to pitiful to imagine. Bloodied heads rested on shoulders and laps, broken feet upon arms. Tired hands held in torn guts and torsos twisted every which way. Dirty shirts dressed the bleeding bodies and not enough material existed in all the world to sop up the spilled blood. A boy clad in gray, perhaps the only rebel among them, lay quietly in one corner, raised arm rigid with a finger extended, as if pointing to the heavens. His face was a singular portrait of contentment among the misery. Broken bones, dirty white and soiled with the passing of hours since injury, were everywhere abundant. All manner of devices splinted the damaged and battered limbs: muskets, branches, bayonets, lengths of wood or iron from barns and carts. One individual had bone splinted with bone: the dried femur of a horse was lashed to his busted shin. A blind man, his eyes subtracted by the minie ball that had enfiladed him, moaned over and over 'I'm kilt, I'm kilt! Oh Gawd, I'm kilt!' Others lay limp, in shock. These last were mostly quiet, their color unnaturally pale. It was agonizingly humid in the still air of the yard. The stink of blood mixed with human waste produced a potent and offensive odor not unlike that of a hog farm in the high heat of a South Carolina summer. Swarms of fat, green blowflies everywhere harassed the soldiers to the point of insanity, biting at their wounds. Their steady buzz was a noise straight out of hell itself, a distress to the ears.