I will say right away that the short story is not my preferred mode of fiction. In fact, I’m rather terrible at writing short stories; I am long-winded in real life and therefore prone to verbosity when I write.
At university I took a series of creative writing classes in which the assignments included poetry as well as shorter fiction. I wrote pretentious neo-classical, high Romantic poems back in my high school creative writing conservatory, but poetry as a mode of expressing my thoughts and feelings is unnatural for me. I fared marginally better in the short story sections and my stories were always longer than the prescribed page limit and felt as though they were poorly contained within the medium.
I have many friends who write excellent short stories. Alas, if their talents would only rub off on me.
I wrote this short story in the summer of 2004 while I was on vacation back at home in Los Angeles in a fit of 18-year-old narcissism. I was setting out to prove that I could write “beautiful, lyrical prose” about nothing. Oh, and sex. Did I succeed? I don’t know, but I am inclined to think it’s one of my most purple pieces of writing ever. Still, it’s good for a laugh, right? Like much of my writing from that period of my life, it is relentlessly about myself. I find it telling that I subconsciously saw myself as a cold, emotionally unavailable woman, a trope that would come up again and again in my writing in the future.
This was one of the assignments I submitted for critique at university and probably one of the first short stories I had ever written in my life. The idea of a deaf girl learning to play the piano had been around in my head for a very long time, since high school when I used to play the 1894 Steinway grand piano in the living room. I have a very personal relationship with the piano. I reread this story and laugh had how it’s clearly the work someone who doesn’t know her craft yet, but it was well-received by my class. My teacher even picked out a line she pointed to as an example of a great sentence: She made a point to touch him always as he spoke, the soft, breathing, living, smoke-scented flesh a better conduit for the sound of his voice than the pregnant air between them. It’s the first time I think I ever felt validated as a writer, so I do have a fondness for this story, flaws and all.
I wrote this late one night when I was 19 years old, bedridden and recovering from having fallen 1000ft during a skiing accident. I had just watched Stealing Beauty an exhorbitant amount of times, I’d come to the conclusion that in the Ideal Imaginary World, I’d be in an artist’s retreat in Tuscany fucking Jeremy Irons and Ewan McGregor and possibly making out with Rachel Weisz. What can I say? I was 19 and over(under)sexed and incredibly narcissistic.
First posted on Halloween 2013, I was struck with an idea for a short story after a scary dream I had had. (Yeah, I know, scary dreams inspiring stories, how very Twilight of me.) It involved a creepy jack-in-the-box, an unwitting victim, and the creeping sense of dread that something awful was about to happen. The dream was actually nothing at all like the story, but it served as a inspiration kernel, and that’s all writers need, right?