I am thrilled to announce that over the weekend my short story “Game Over” was published in Elohi Gadugi’s Winter 2013 issue. This is the first time I’ve published since I finished grad school in the spring, and it is also, fittingly, the first time a portion of my thesis (The Dream Life of Toby McClure, the novel I discussed here quite a bit in November) has gone public. It’s a real honor to see my name up there with Ron Heacock and Karen Walasek, friends and former Goddard classmates whose work I admire, in a journal with such a beautiful mission.

This publication is a real watershed moment for me, not only for the reasons I just listed, but because it’s the first validation of a risk I took a couple of years ago.

As a writer, I didn’t start out writing fiction. Poetry was my first language, the genre I always reached for when I had something important to say. It was the genre that got me my first publication credit in a magazine that has long ago stopped running and the genre that got me into Goddard, but in the middle of my second semester at Goddard, I switched my focus from poetry to fiction and began working on a novel.

At the time, almost everyone I knew thought I was crazy. I will never forget the last night of a residency when a friend dragged me around the bonfire and started asking people whether they would prefer to be poets or fiction writers. Almost everyone there was a fiction writer, and almost all of the fiction writers said that they would have preferred to be poets.

I wouldn’t admit it at the time, but even I thought I was starting to lose it. I was doing well as a poet. The minimalism of short lines and simple (or nonexistent) sentences came easily to me, and I struggled to write a scene longer than 1000 words. What was I thinking attempting a novel?

Looking back on it now, I wasn’t thinking at all. All I knew was that I loved novels. I loved characters and narrative and the way you can lose yourself in a novel for days and days. Novels saved me during during the winter in my early 20s when I was trapped in my apartment unable to walk. I knew Scarlett Thomas’s imaginary toy company PopCo better than I knew my neighborhood in Boston, and I wanted to do that. More than anything I wanted to be a world builder.

It’s been about two years now, and fiction still doesn’t come easily to me. My work is full of stammering and false starts and dead ends, but I have evidence now that sometimes the path that makes the most sense, the work that comes easiest, isn’t the best after all.

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