This is a lame post about my first published story, The Quarry. I wrote this story a while back while in my first workshop class with Marilynne Robinson, nearly six (Jesus Christ) years ago as a student at Iowa.
Because we all know how popular literary journals are, I got permission from Hunger Mountain, the VCFA journal of the arts, to preview a bit of it here below.
I would be grateful to hear your thoughts. Though my writing and my interests have evolved drastically in the time in between, it does remain emblematic, for me, of a specific time in my life, when I felt short stories were about cobbling together scenes that made emotional sense.
I also learned that I need to give up my dogged resistance to having some semblance of a plot, very quickly. It actually is a great joy to have a plot.
A note on the featured image of a bike in a tree: this is a famous landmark on Vashon Island. There are numerous stories about how it got there. Some lore runs: a boy left his bike in a tree and then went off to World War I, and the tree grew around his bike. It could also be a hoax.
My most recent story, Gunn, is up at the American Literary Review, the fiction, poetry and non-fiction journal of the University of North Texas. Do noodle about and read it here.
This story went through two phases of workshop with Jonathan Ames and Elizabeth McCracken. Thanks so much to my peers for saving it from barreling in a much more ridiculous direction (a dream about the love of a woman for a lion). Instead, the story is about African Traditional Churches, lion conservatories, Tanzania, and the tension between science and religion. Everything in this story is fictional but loosely based on research.
Generally, I am fascinated by how we experience the spiritual in the secular world – whether through music, art, dance…William James wrote a lot about faith being a matter of “shared belief”; faith is how we experience a thing greater than ourselves, together in a group. I want to explore how we agree to believe in an idea, place, or state, with other people, in order to feel less alone.
This story was a runner-up in the journal’s 2010 Fiction contest, judged by Donald Hays, who wrote some very nice things about it. I am very grateful to be featured on their site and to have been chosen as a finalist.