In the Classroom

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Last spring I was driving home from work and saw a young woman sitting on the hill at the college that looks out over the football stadium, watching track practice. I wrote some line in my head about a girl named jodee, and how she likes the baseball boys. Later that night, I opened a TextEdit document and started riffing for a bit about a guy who throws the javelin. I kind of liked the voice, and a little while later, I returned to it, and wrote what eventually became "fourteen," which was published in matchbook.

A couple months later, after I'd spent the summer working on various short stories, I had an image of some kid who goes to Wal-Mart to stare at the fish because it makes him happy. I started thinking about the narrator of "fourteen," wondering what she would do with that image. Then I let her have at it. The result, "smoke," was published today in the Spring 2011 issue of Moon Milk Review.

Around that time, a western wear catalogue arrived in the mail, and I started imagining some heartbroken woman reading it, looking for something she probably wasn't ever going to find between its covers. Then, I thought I'd try writing that story from "my girl's"--for several months, she didn't have a name; in my notebooks, I would make notes to myself that what I was writing was narrated by "my girl"--from "my girl's" point of view. The resulting story, "my pretend heart," was published just a couple days ago in Issue Three of Twelve Stories.

In all, I think I've written ten or eleven stories narrated by "my girl"--whose name eventually became Mariposa. The stories range in length from 300 to about 5000 words. I've put them aside for a little while, but I'm looking forward to summer, when I'm going to be revising some of those drafts and then working on a few more stories from her p.o.v., maybe trying to shape them into some kind of book.

The above photo has pretty much nothing to do with this post. Well, actually: That bowling alley is just a couple blocks from the above-mentioned football stadium. Mostly, though: I just dig it. Courtesy of Jane.

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