Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol. 21  No. 1
 print preview

The Story as Window

So much of my fiction centers around coming-of-age, or more aptly, coming-to-awareness. Growing up gives us so many “wake up” moments, where our eyes are forced open time and time again in a string of pivotal realizations that we can never reverse. That opening is where my stories bloom from. Whether it’s through first encounters with socioeconomic disadvantage, familial strife, or general injustices, I work by looking at the inconsistencies of the world through a child’s eyes: a more objective lens that defamiliarizes the cruelties we grow jaded to with age. The things that feel world-shattering and monumental to us in our youth may seem insignificant in the eyes of the adults around us, but oftentimes it’s the planting of a seed—the beginning of a wound that festers into adulthood. Bringing the reader back into that space of first impact, to me, is a way of reckoning with the innocence of youth that we spend the rest of our lives mourning.

On a craft level, almost all of my short stories are born out of their opening or closing line. Either an opening line that drops you into a world askew, or a closing line that resonates like an echo, like a haunting that lingers once the story is over. I believe that no matter how fluid or artistic the prose, the heart of a story is rooted in character and human detail. I never endue overt morality or made-meaning. A story, to me, is the extending of a hand into another’s life, into the intimacy of witnessing an experience outside of our own. Ironically, I believe the more specificity used in a story—the closer a story is to its individual characters—ultimately makes it all the more true and universal.

Writing is one of the only places in my life where I allow myself to be selfish—where I indulge the innate frustration I had as a child, realizing that the stories I want to read didn’t exist, so I begrudgingly took on the “burden” of having to write them myself. I’ve only ever wanted to write a story so vivid that it reads like memoir, so real it’s almost voyeuristic, as if we’ve suddenly found ourselves peering through a window into a stranger’s living room.  

return to top