Like most writers I know, fiction has long been part of my life. When I was small, for example, I wrote a brief story for my father’s enjoyment about a bank robber who used the public bus as his getaway vehicle. I’ve been an avid reader of fiction for the entirety of my adult life, and that reading has, without question impacted my poetry (see The Bureau for irrefutable evidence). In college, I took two fiction writing classes. In my MFA program, I took two fiction workshops and, of course, I have taught fiction in both literature and mixed-genre workshops. I’ve written, read, and thought about stories for decades, occasionally thinking myself primarily a fiction writer. Indeed, like many writers, I’ve started (and abandoned) multiple novels. I’ve started short story projects. I’ve sent out several short stories, only to see them returned. Over the course of about a decade, I sent out stories very rarely. Once in a while, those stories would come back with notes or with invitations to submit my fiction again. Yet, for some reason, I never followed up on those invitations.
With poetry, I was (and still am) deeply committed to submitting, taking the rejections, and finding an audience for those poems that I believed deserved some semblance of attention. With fiction, however, I simply did not commit to seeing the word “no” again and again and again. I hesitated–sometimes to the point of paralysis–to even think myself a fiction writer. Until last year.
Now, there are stories in the mail. Now, there are stories that will, very shortly, be joining those stories in the mail. Now, I’m working on a short story collection I believe in as strongly as gravity believes in me. Now, I’m happy to announce my first fiction publication. My short story “Our Secret Identity” is available in the November issue of the spectacular online journal, Hermenuetic Chaos.
My name is Les, and I’m a fiction writer, and I’d like to take a moment to urge you not to let the doubts win. Ever. I promise that I won’t. And there will be more news about fiction here soon. I’d also like to take a moment to assure that this story is much better than that bank robber story I wrote as a surprisingly precocious working-class kid in that two-bedroom apartment in Texas.