There’s a black market in breastmilk here.
“Ash and Dust” is the second story I ever tried to sell. Sold, as well, but let’s focus on the trying instead. “Snowfall” was the first, and it was something else entirely–a little piece about family and what matters at the end of the world. Short, very short, the shortest story I’ve ever written.
When I first decided to send “Ash and Dust” out, I didn’t know the markets. I didn’t know what I was doing, really. I’d written a story that was just shy of 6,800 words, that included a miscarriage, a death from a postpartum hemorrhage, multiple births, and a lesbian midwife living in an refugee camp with her two children. And there was that opening line, which at the time I was writing it made perfect sense, but once I decided to send it out suddenly felt very very heavy.
Write the stories you want to read. Isn’t that the advice everyone gives? “Ash and Dust” was exactly the story I wanted to read at the time I wrote it. It was many things for me–a farewell to a chapter in my life, a love letter to an exceptional midwife, grief over someone who shouldn’t have died, an outlet for anger and fear, and a reminder of hope. The thing about writing a story like that is that when you get to the point of trying to sell it, you suddenly wonder who could possibly want it.
The answer is Strange Horizons. Not because they specialize in midwives and apocalypse, but because they believe in stories that explore the full range of the human experience. The thrill of that sale is one that stays with me, that encourages me when I’m wondering what exactly I’m doing as a writer.
It’s an experience I wish on many other writers. It is one of many reasons to donate to the Strange Horizons’ fund drive.
It looks like they’ve almost reached their minimum goal for the year–what they need to continue for another year with no changes. But I’d love to see their additional goals met. The poets deserve a raise. So do the reviewers. If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still a day left to do so.
And if you have? Thank you!
November 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm
I still love that story.