Begin with fear of abandonment, that oh-so-human terror, but give said emotion to a personified house. Half of all gothic novels can be summed up with “girl meets house,” which means next we’ll need a girl, preferably one who’s already half-mad. Make her an amateur origamist, in it for the meditation of repetitive motion. Give her a brother with a lust for travel, except that he’s not yet old enough to make good his escape. Add two selfish parents with buttons for eyes. That’s been done? Very well, better make it a zombie father and a mother with knives where her heart ought to be. Mix to taste.
Today my short-story, “Everything Must Go,” is live at Clarkesworld. This is my second pro sale, my first since I attended Clarion (UCSD, class of 2011). I am irrationally pleased it went to such a good home, and if you’ve dropped by due to said publication, hello and welcome to the blog!
This particular story began life in July of 2011 as my Week 5 Clarion submission, with the working title of Feral House. It received 18 critiques from my Clarionauts, plus crits from John Kessel and Kij Johnson. I owe all of them an enormous debt; the finished product is much better for their wisdom. The story rested until December 2011, partly due to studying for comprehensive exams, and partly because I wanted some distance on it. From December until October 2012 the piece went through eleven drafts; at drafts six and eight I snagged another round of feedback from readers. The final draft was completed on October 19th.
None of which tells you much besides that writing is deadly hard, and rather boring when reduced to pure process. Here’s a better story: I met someone at Clarion. This someone, to be precise. And we fell in love, and in between critiquing other people’s stories into the dead of night, we told each other our life-stories, assuming that after six weeks of beach-vacation-writer-paradise ended, we’d never see each other again. “Everything Must Go” is and isn’t his story, but it was (and is) an odd, melancholy love letter. This particular story has a happy ending, though. He now lives with me in Chicago, and our writing desks sit side by side.
Thank you for reading, everyone.