There’s always a nuclear bomb at the end

You know about singing in the shower? Writing for yourself is kind of like that. You may not do more than whisper Mary Had A Little Lamb when you’re singing in public, but you’re ready to belt out arias once the hot water arrives. Off key and words jumbled–it doesn’t matter because you’re doing it for your own pleasure.

Which is kind of where this story comes from. When I say I like to write for myself sometimes, I really mean it. Most of that play (not work) stays hidden. This one didn’t because it was so much fun to read aloud (which I did, to anyone who would listen). When a bit of writing enjoys its life that much, it seems a pity to force it to stay home.

That’s one version of TAaNBatE’s (even the acronym is long) origin. Another is that I love movies almost as much as I love books. I really do, even the bad ones. But in the past year, I’ve been viewing many of them through the eyes of my daughter, who wants to see women and girls not just in the action, but leading it. Women who can not only change a flat, but rebuild an engine with their own tool kit.

The truth is that most of the movies she sees don’t live up to her imagination. Maybe none. The dissonance between what she believes herself capable of and what pop culture insists is her role is painful to me.

So, the fuller answer to where this particular story came from is that after a steady diet of superhero movies this spring, after regular conversations with the kids about what trends we saw repeated in them, on an afternoon when I was bored and itchy to write, I wrote. I wrote it for myself, and for my daughter. There was pleasure in the structure, frustration in the words.

If you’re not subscribed to Daily Science Fiction (quick, easy, free, comes right to your inbox every weekday…why not sign up?), you can find TAaNBatE on their front page this weekend. After that, I’ll add a direct link on my Short Fiction page.


  1. Awesome story! Thanks for sharing this one with the world.

    • Thanks, M.E.! To be fair, I should add that my husband really pushed me to send this out as well. For all of, oh, five minutes or so. 🙂

  2. Great story! And as an English girl who grew up in Massachusetts, I’m delighted to have stumbled upon your blog as an added bonus. Reading it is like a mini-visit to New England. 🙂

    • cosmicdriftwood

      November 28, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Thanks, Eleanor! And I’m delighted to be able to provide you with a little blog trip back through the Baystate. 🙂

  3. I’m a big fan of THE SUN. I hope you gave Sy a shot at this piece, because in my mind, its a philosophical bit and fit there perfectly. It’s also beautifully written, in an atypical style for SF. And it also just squeaked by the 1500 word limit, which Daily discourages.

    So, I was ambivalent to read it today, because it doesn’t really belong at Daily, and the space could have been used for something else. Perhaps something I’d submitted? Yet I relished every word, every nuanced tug at my preconceptions. How dare they! And how dare me! Nonplussed. Is that right? I’ll go look it up.

    • cosmicdriftwood

      November 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      The Sun…hmm. Interesting thought. I haven’t sent anything to them since 2012. So, no, this one didn’t go there. If anything, it’s my swan song at DSF. They changed their guidelines just before I submitted this, and I’m not likely to have flash for them in the future, as I’m too wordy. They’ve made space for stories of mine that don’t fit smoothly anywhere, and published my first, and I’m tremendously grateful to them.

      Anyway, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it, despite your ambivalence (and I appreciate your honesty).

  4. Can I say I’ve had exactly that experience with my daughters? I like your comment about the dissonance between what she’s capable of and what pop culture insists. Exactly. That.

    And the story? Awesomeness incarnate. I laughed and then reread it and then insisted everyone in the household stop what they were doing and listen. Nice one.

    • Hey, thanks, Heather! It is the thing that aches to be read to people, doesn’t it? I read everything aloud to myself, but this is the only one I’ve read to multiple people.

      And may our daughters climb right into whatever spaces they choose and make themselves at home!

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