“I’m thirty-one. I own two pairs of pants and I live in a dungeon. In so many ways I don’t feel like an adult.”
I have so much to be thankful for this weekend. By an odd coincidence, my first published short story, “When It’s Over,” appeared yesterday in Plenitude Magazine (an online literary journal showcasing the work of queer writers), just three days before the Canadian release of my first novel, In the Key of Dale, from Arsenal Pulp Press.
“When It’s Over” is about academia, although I hadn’t planned to write about academia when I began writing it. This story started as an exercise for the Story Course offered by the Sarah Selecky Writing School, which I undertook in the fall of 2020 and which I cannot recommend enough to anyone interested in jumpstarting their approach to creative writing. (It certainly did the trick for me!)
One exercise required us to write a scene that included one of two phrases—“What I’ve never understood is…” or “What I’ve always wanted to know is…”—and a later sentence that started with the word “Now” to mark a return to the story’s action. A few weeks later, after receiving great feedback by my fellow group members and by the group facilitator, I had the chance to expand that scene into a full story, uncovering the remaining elements as I wrote. Then, after the course ended, I revised and revised and revised and started sending it out, and eventually I received an acceptance from Plenitude!
I should mention, too, that while the story is about academia, it doesn’t reflect at all my own experience as a Ph.D. student. My doctoral supervisor was and remains an amazingly supportive person, and one I still feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with.
“When It’s Over” is one of several short stories I’ve been working on about queer characters facing the ends of relationships (professional and personal). Two more stories will appear in literary journals in the next few months and more are in progress, so stay tuned!