It’s alive, friends, “Earn Your Breath” is alive! Or rather, it’s “live” over at the wonderful Cast of Wonders. You can give it a read or a listen here. Look at that beautiful cover art by Geneva Benton!
I’m so excited and feeling all the feels over this story. It’s very near and dear to my heart, as a woman who has known practically since the womb that I don’t want to have children. There’s also an ass-kicking female lead, a knife fight, and platonic male/female friendship–all things I love. To everyone, but especially to women (and women-presenting), because I think we get pressured more than men on the whole “when are you/why don’t you have kids” thing (and all its variations), this story is for you.
So, a little history on how this story came to be. The rough draft for this was written back in March 2015. And, yea, lots of changes between the first draft and the final.
This story is a play on the simplistic writing advice “write what you know.” I’ve known since I was a kid that I don’t want to have children. I grew up listening to well-meaning adults tell me in a variety of ways that I’d change my mind once I was older. I haven’t. I dealt with people remarking that I wasn’t a “real” woman if I didn’t have children, people saying how they couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want them, people trying to lecture me because what if my future husband wanted kids? What a horrible girl I was, holding this hypothetical person back from something he apparently wanted.
So, I went forth into the world and made my intentions clear. I met my husband when I was eighteen, and I told him on our second date that if he ever wanted kids, if he thought he might ever want them someday, if he had the slightest hesitance because there was a shadow a of a “maybe” in the back of his mind, then we should break it off now. “We’re not getting any younger,” I said. “I’m never going to change my mind.” I was eighteen.
I wrote what I knew: a woman’s worth can be measured in more than just children.
I learned a lot in writing “Earn Your Breath,” and especially in the revising (very special thank you to Rachael K. Jones, for sending me the most encouraging personal rejection letter ever. I firmly believe that the story found a home because her pointed feedback made it stronger). It’s the second short story I’ve ever written, not counting little things written when I was a kid, and the first that I thought was a complete story. I’m very grateful it found a home with Cast of Wonders, and am honored that it gets to be a part of the Artemis Rising 4 issue.
Ibba Armancas does a wonderful job narrating it, and there’s a great discussion between the hosts of Breaking the Glass Slipper: Megan, Lucy, and Charlotte at the end of the podcast where they examine the strengths and weaknesses of the story. Please consider giving it a listen.
I head back out to Lake Quinault tomorrow for five days of writing in the rainforest at the Rainforest Writers Retreat. One of my goals while there is to get a reading recap post done since that’s something I’d like to do “consistently” (hahaha, consistency? Me? On this blog?).
And a last bit of news—my story “Fishkin,” an #ownvoices short story dealing with adoption and exploring what that means for an adoptee (who also happens to be a fish person because I’m a fish nerd and had to write a story with fish in it), is slated to come out in the May/June issue of Cicada Magazine.