Dear friends in the Internet, I’ve got two short-short stories for you this weekend! I’ve been working on repairing my relationship with fiction for a while, and though things are still sort of awkward, it feels good to be doing the work. Fiction and I separated after high school and for the same kinds of reasons that so often come between partners in relationships: insecurity, fear, and a feeling of inferiority. I wrote a lot of fiction, but I never felt very confident about it. When I started college, I already felt not-very-confident about so many things that I never took a fiction workshop: I just couldn’t gather the courage I needed to get past my lack of confidence and to remember that the important thing wasn’t to write perfect stories but to learn from — and learn to love — the imperfections. I regret that now. I’m also grateful to have arrived at a moment in my life where I’m able to push (a little bit at least) past the fear to the work.
My flash pieces often begin the same way my poems do: with an image. That was the case with “On the Margin of the River,” which appears in the latest issue of Cloudbank and received The Cloudbank Poetry Prize for Issue 10 (you can order the print issue here — and Cloudbank is always gorgeous in print!). I was staying at my parents’ house and nodding off while my parents watched television. I started thinking about that far-off, undersea quality that other people’s conversations take on when you’re slipping into sleep. I was still thinking about that when I actually went to sleep, and I had a dream about talking to mermaids (which was, by the way, awesome). The story started as a way to work through that image. It outgrew the image pretty quickly and became, for me, more about tone. I’m still trying to find a place for the mermaids, since mermaids are, of course, awesome.
I’ve also got a short-short up at Monkeybicycle, which is tremendously exciting. I started reading Monkeybicycle in 2005, mostly because the title is every bit as awesome as mermaids. I’ve submitted to them a few times over the years, but never really got anywhere (and for good reason — the stories weren’t very well developed and in all honesty were probably totally poems), so I’m incredibly happy to have a piece in the journal now. This one’s called “The Honor Code” and started from a conversation about — you guessed it — honor codes, about how they’re a very honorable concept that can be disastrous if it’s not followed through. I started journaling about how easy it is to make justifications that twist the concept of honor around to one’s own interests, and this teenager’s monologue just kind of appeared. Also, any time I can write about someone’s hair being on fire, I’m happy.