Welcome to Behind the Story, number two, -- a ‘behind the scenes’ series of blog posts that give you the inside scoop on my the stories and other written works I’ve had published. I’ll be starting with the oldest and moving forward through time.
Smoking Section, published by the Eunoia Review in November 2011
I love this story. This incarnation that was published was written my sophomore year of college, in the first week or two. I remember just typing away at the idea, sentence by sentence in a very careful way but in a relatively short time frame. Again, this never ended up in class but was shared with my classmate writing group.
My first, earlier incarnation of this story -- and I say incarnation rather than draft because it was so different -- was written in my senior year of high school. The inspiration was twofold. One is obvious in the text of the story. It was around that time that a lot legislation was being passed banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and those laws inspired a lot of public debate. So that was the surrounding political debate. Two, a particular plot point in one episode of Boy Meets World. (It was a Mr. Feeny story line.)
So that is where it came from. It is truly interesting to see how disparte inspiration can be taken and reformed into something new. I hope the reader picks up what the characters are actually arguing about when they are arguing about new smoking laws.
The reason I love this story so much is because I felt once I completed it that I had been able to execute my vision for the story. We creative types often have standards higher than our abilities at any given moment, and this was a point in time they met.
Welcome to Behind the Story -- a ‘behind the scenes’ series of blog posts that give you the inside scoop on my the stories and other written works I’ve had published. I’ll be starting with the oldest and moving forward through time.
Surface, published by LitSnack Magazine in December 2010
Surface was my first published short story. I wrote it while I was in college but it wasn’t for my any of my creative writing workshop classes. However I did share it in a writing group some of students had formed to share stories and receive feedback.
The core idea of the story was inspired from a detail I heard about a distant, far-extended family member who passed away after diving into a pool while intoxicated. Swimming pools had always been fun in my family, from being a little kid splashing around all summer to more than one family wedding where grooms, brides, and others were tossed into said pools. In fact, my dad threw my mom into a pool at the party they first met, so I guess pools and fun is sort of in my heritage. A pool being turned into this vicious, haunting thing was disonnent to my personal experience.
Before it was accepted at LitSnack Magazine, I recall it being rejected by another magazine with the note that the editors didn’t like how impersonal it was with the character, particularly the POV character being unnamed. I was stubborn about it them. (I found it awkward to introduce character names and liked the aesthetic of he/she third person statements.) With perspective, got to say that I agree with those editors!
I feel like this early story is a little embarrassing, like a middle school class photo. At the time, a semester or two or three (my timeline memory is a little fuzzy) into my college creative writing education, I was trying to write serious, literary fiction and that meant writing about death and grieving apparently. But writing (and publishing in the world of literary magazines) is just a series of learning processes and stepping stones. This first publication was an important stepping stone for me.
PS - It is heartwarming to go look at the comments on this story. Six out of seven are spam, but the first was a person who read and liked my story! Thanks friend!
Insights from the life of an aspiring, struggling writer; a passionate reader, and a working librarian.
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