Tag Archives: she walked out the door

Links and lurkers and Phoenix

As threatened, the link for the LASR poll for Best Book of 2012 is here. I have one request of anyone who may be tempted to vote for Phoenix: please only do so if you’ve read and enjoyed it. I say this not to force people to read Phoenix, but to satisfy my sense of fair play.

I promised more details about Phoenix, including embarrassing ones. First, I have to satisfy my own curiosity. The thing about WordPress, for those of you who don’t blog, is that you’re provided a limited amount of statistics about your readers. You don’t know, for example, the specific area a visit might originate from, but you do know the country. Some search terms show up, so when people google “driftwood clocks” and find their way here, I can see that.

Because I’m more curious than a box of toddlers, I can’t help but notice the stats trends. When all of a sudden there are many more people stopping by after googling “She Walked Out The Door,” it makes the back of my brain itch. Why the sudden interest?

One possibility is that the searching parties have been assigned the story for their high school English class (online syllabi–they’re easy to find). If that’s the case, if you’re a high school student who’s had to read “She Walked Out The Door” as a case study in POV, please say hi. In the comments, in an email, via a balloonogram…I welcome most forms of communication. In exchange, I promise to give you the five cent tour on how the story got written, and share the truth about exactly how much thought goes into some story details.

Okay, on to Phoenix, Truth or Dare version.

I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was young. Salem’s Lot freaked me out. It just bothered me. Cujo…not totally sure why I read it, but I remember it was while flying from Massachusetts to California when I was twelve. The Stand, ah, I read that repeatedly, at least yearly, whenever I got a bad cold. (If that didn’t do the trick, I’d watch a double feature of Alien and The Thing, but that’s getting a little far afield.)

All of the other things I’ve said about Phoenix are also true, but the embarrassing thing is that I wrote the first draft as an experiment in writing like Stephen King. Yes, it’s fair to say I missed my target. By miles.

It’s okay. I prefer Phoenix the way it is, and part of the fun of writing is trying on ten thousand hats, hopefully not all at once, and discovering which ones suit your face and which ones make you look like a giant fungus.

So, that’s what Phoenix is not. I’m not totally sure what it is. The simple answer is that it’s a story about three kids, runaways, who end up living together in an abandoned factory for a brief period before violence drives them away on their separate journeys. It’s told by Tucker, now a middle-aged man who devotes part of his life to doing what he can for kids in trouble.

There’s some ambiguity about what happens, which I like. I know the correct answer is that I plotted everything out, and that I know the truth about Tucker, Gabriel, and Kelsey. I think Tucker’s story is pretty well laid out, and Gabriel’s is a long involved one that I hope will make it to publication some day.

And Kelsey? That’s the question, isn’t it? I have my own answers about her, but I think I can’t share them. It doesn’t seem fair to me to leave things open to a reader’s imagination, and then impose my answers afterward. If you really want to know what I think, you have to tell me what you think first.

I’ll be doing another post about Phoenix for the Euterpe blog later in February. I’ll add a link once it’s up.


An excerpt

A taste of “She Walked Out The Door” is available here.


She Walked Out The Door

I’ve been trying to think of what to say about “She Walked Out The Door” for a few days. It seems simplest to be honest about it.

I said the other day that it doesn’t have a speculative element in it, and that is true. What is also true is that it shares its heart with “Ash and Dust” and “Snowfall” and all my other apocalypses. The difference is in the scale.

I’ve mentioned how I’m drawn to write dark and sad things with hopeful endings. It may be that I simply love number six of Vonnegut’s eight tips for short fiction far too much.

But it’s equally likely that it I do it because I’ve struggled with depression for all of my adult life. Depression of the sort that can bleach the world colorless and make every step through it feel pointless and daunting.

Once you’ve spent time in that landscape, something changes within you. Nothing will ever feel quite as certain again. It’s a lonely place to begin with, and in this culture, where mental illness in all its shapes is treated as shameful, it quickly can become an isolation chamber.

One of the things you learn is that returning from that place is a journey of a thousand careful steps. At first, you’re so intent on taking them that you don’t see anyone around you, but eventually you begin to look. What you find is a world full of people taking those same careful steps. People who have been carried to the edges of their own lands by private disasters, and into places they don’t think they will be able to return from.

They can. They do.

Chances are, most, if not all, of us travel to those places at some point. Lives break every day. Hearts and minds, though, they are resilient. Given the chance, they will find a way to rebuild. Grief shapes you into something new, but it doesn’t dissolve you.

“She Walked Out The Door” comes from that place.


Things that come in the mail

I received my contributor’s copies of the August issue of The Sun yesterday. “She Walked Out The Door” is my first publication in print, and my first published story lacking a speculative element. My children are quite impressed that it comes with two pictures. I haven’t quite come around to the whole thing yet. Every now and then I open the cover of one of the copies and discover my name there, and then I close it back up again and go do something else.

I’ll have more to say about the story in the next day or two. Today I’m trying to work, while battling an acute case of butterfly brain. It’s hard to focus when your mind would rather flit about on the breeze.