A Whisper in the Weld

SHIMMER 22 coverLadies, gentlefolk, digital dataminers, spambots of the interwebs, bemused blog readers:

Today, issue #22 of Shimmer Magazine is available for purchase. My story, “A Whisper in the Weld,”[1] will be available (free) on their site on November 4th, and over the following weeks three more stories will roll like golden apples before you, by Carlie St. George, Craig DeLancey, and Kelly Sandoval.

EDIT: It’s up! Right here.

If I were to tell you what my story is about (and you can never trust writers in these situations), I would say: WWII industrial capitalism and the women who worked in the hot heart of the beast. And mothers and daughters and ghosts and husbands, and how sometimes if you are very stubborn you can tug at the cold edges of the world and pull them into a better shape.

I’ve spent a lot of the last year trying to figure out how to write, how to submit, how to handle rejections poorly, how to improve, how to take steps backwards, how to inch forwards. This is exactly the third story I wrote, not counting some unspeakable experiments in middle school, and the first one to see the light of day.

Predictably, I kind of want to buy a neon sign that says “Dudes I Wrote a Story” in fancy curlicue script and hang it in my window, or maybe just flood Twitter with things like “wow interesting conversation guys OH LOOK A LINK TO SHIMMER.” And I’m sure I’ll do plenty of that.

But another part of me wants to change my name and vanish from the face of the blogosphere. It has recently come to my attention that publishing stories means people might read them.[2]

As a reader, I know precisely how much power readers have. Readers are thieves and pickpockets, every one of us, because when I read a story it no longer belongs to its author, but to me, its reader. I can carry it around in my pocket if I like, or toss it away, or give it to others. I can hate it, change it in my head, give the characters familiar faces, or forget it as soon as I read the final sentence.

In light of these perils, it might be more mutually agreeable if you didn’t actually read my story, but merely followed the link and looked at the pretty cover and said to yourself, “Well, I’m sure that was quite good!” and congratulated the editors on their keen slush-reading, and then we both retired with fond affection for one another.

Except that’s a terrible idea, because it would ruin the alchemical symmetry between writing and reading, the cyclical thievery which sustains both sides, and anyway I’m not that much of a coward, I swear.

So, plunder away, dear readers. She’s all yours.

[1] Nice title, huh? Yeah, I didn’t come up with it. My partner Nick did, because he just sort of oozes poetic phrasings in this effortless way that would be super annoying except he lets me steal them.

[2] I mean, people have read my stories before—my stalwart partner and my Mom would both be shocked to hear I didn’t want anyone to read my stories (usually it goes like this: “WHEW I finished it. So I emailed it to you, no rush.” Six seconds pass. “Have you read it? No? No big deal. I’m fine. Just, you know, whenever you get to it.”). But they are, thank god, rather fond of me.

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10 comments

  1. THis is the first one I read after downloading my new Shimmer subsciption. It’s brilliant, beautiful, and the followup interview regarding Rosie the Riveter is wonderfully thought-provoking.

    Thank you SO much for this.

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