March 30, 2021
I was thrilled to learn on Friday that Existere, the lit mag of York University, wants to publish my short story, “Natural Consequences,” in their upcoming Spring/Summer issue. It’s been a long road for this piece, which came into being as an assignment for my very first fiction class in January 2012, Creative Writing 1 at Mount Royal University, taught by my dear friend and mentor, Lori Hahnel (author of many wonderful books, most recently a collection of short stories called Vermin, published in 2020).
The only assignment for the class? A short story not a word over 500. Easy.
I remember the agony of trying to compress the conflicts of what felt like an entire adolescence into two pages, as if I might not ever get another chance. I remember the worry that at 35, I had missed whatever chance I had already.
Over time, this 500-word piece spawned a novel–see the hiatus from submissions from 2015 to 2020–while also continuing to develop into its own separate form. Finally seeing it published means a lot, and gives me hope for the eventual publication of the novel.
I get annoyed when established writers offer wisdom to “young writers” rather than “new writers.” The long, slow work of writing demands a degree of stability and calm that many of us don’t find in our lives until we’re older. Some of us would prefer not to write about the things that demand to be written about, and we fight the surfacing of these things for a long time. And lots of us have internalized the silencing of family, society, and culture, assassinating our creative selves through countless inside jobs.
If not for the support and encouragement of teachers and friends, I would not have had the nerve to keep re-writing and re-submitting this story. Writing may be a solitary activity, but it does not occur in isolation.