This month marks the 10 year anniversary of my first published short story. “Retirement” appeared in Kopfhalter! #2, edited by Keith Gouveia and published by AP Fuchs. Of course, I had been publishing Freak Tension since 1998, and I had snuck quite a few short stories in amongst all that punk rock shit. Still, getting “Retirement” published was a big deal. It was proof that someone other than me thought my stuff was good enough to publish. And considering I had accumulated a few hundred rejection letters at that point, the validation was much needed. It kept me going.
Here’s some history: I started writing as soon as I figured out how to hold a pen. I’m not going to get into the whole “I had a rough childhood boo hoo” thing. Hospitals. Scars. Let’s just say I needed to spend a lot of time hiding from the world. So I hid in my room. Comet Avenue. Early eighties. Sprawled out on piss yellow shag carpet. Weird scrap paper with musical notation on the back. I scribbled out story after story. Monsters. Mutants. Dinosaurs. Slime. I hid in those stories. Those stories kept me safe.
Now I’ve had more than 50 short stories published all over the world. Last year I published what I believe is my best bit of flash fiction, “The Songwriter’s Fingers,” in Revolver, a pretty prestigious literary journal located here in my home base of Minneapolis. Just last month I got a shout out in Publisher’s Weekly for my latest short story, “The Strange Vice of ZLA-138,” which appears in Giallo Fantastique from Word Horde. I’ve got three books under my belt now too, with more coming up really quick.
I keep writing because I need to. I still need that place to hide. But this world is tough. It doesn’t always reward such behavior. Every day there are forces at work to crush creativity. I don’t know what I would have done without the little boosts from supportive publishers and from the people who read my special brand of nonsense. That still blows my mind. People reading my stuff? Writing is such a solitary thing. As a kid, I just sat there alone writing story after story, never even considering that they’d entertain anyone other than myself. Little me would have been sooo psyched.
So from me and little me, thanks for reading our shit. Thanks for keeping us safe.