Story Notes on "To My (Final) Girl"

Others will properly eulogize the demise of the personal blog as a thing anyone reads, but I'll admit I find the current state of affairs to be something of a personal advantage. Here's a place that is technically available if anyone is curious about my writing and wants to read about it, but which doesn't involve me putting something in front of all my online connections and inviting judgment or dismissal. Sort of nice.

With that in mind, here are some notes on my first-ever "professional-level"* fiction publication, a short-short story called "To My (Final) Girl," which is now online at Fantasy Magazine: To My (Final) Girl - Fantasy Magazine (fantasy-magazine.com). At Fantasy and its sister publications, the authors of the "full-length" short stories get little author interviews, but the "flash fiction" (stories of 1,000 words or less) and poetry authors don't, so here's the rough equivalent, in case, somehow, anyone wants to know:

For a while this story existed as kind of a half-formed essay about a common method used by horror stories (usually movies) to generate artificial conflict, which is to have the main characters, right at the beginning, go somewhere they've never been before. The most common example being to move in to a haunted house. That way, no internal conflict or character development is needed to drive the story. Basically, the characters themselves become inessential. They could be anybody. I made fun of this gimmick whenever I saw a bad horror movie for years. And then one day in 2016, I started, for no particular reason, to wonder if maybe the act of going somewhere unknown, under sometimes quite risky circumstances, without being particularly careful, said something about the kind of characters who would do such a thing after all. Soon after that I was writing the opening lines of this story almost automatically. I don't think I knew what I was doing as a writer well enough to carry it off at the time, but I really liked the idea, and last summer I returned to it, revised it, submitted it to Fantasy, and to my surprise and delight, it was accepted.

It's very strange to have a story published in a pro-level genre fiction magazine. I've been submitting stories and fantasizing about seeing one of my stories on these websites for several years, and they're statistically more difficult to get into than most universities, but most people don't even know they exist. In a way I feel released from a self-imposed burden, to have achieved this highly specific thing I wasn't sure I ever would. But of course I also want to do it again, preferably many times. A blessing for all those dreaming specific, obscure dreams: may their realization bring you peace!


*This is a standard created by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America organization, which as of the writing of this blog post refers to publications that pay at least eight cents per word. Once you make a "qualifying sale," you can join the SFWA as an Associate Member (which I did!), and three sales make you eligible for full membership. These are real things that can happen to a person in their life.

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