A good number of years ago I had accepted the invitation to speak at a literary conference, in Seattle, if I remember correctly. It was only after I had agreed to be there that I was told of a somewhat unusual requirement; Each year of the conference a literary volume was put together. All attending writers and illustrators were asked to contribute to that collection. That is why I sat down and wrote the story, What Do Fish Have to Do With Anything?
The inspiration? The notion of writing about a lonely boy and a homeless man are subjects that are, alas, everywhere to see.
It was hardly the first short story I had written, and when they come about they do for a variety of reasons, not connected. Thus, in the same volume, The Goodness of Matt Kaizer came to mind because I knew a teacher who was also the wife of an Episcopalian minister. She told me how the children of such folks often have a hard time trying to establish themselves (in school) as distinct from their parents’ religious convictions and morality. I found an ironic twist to that situation.
Talk to Me came to me when I experienced a phone message I kept checking only to learn it had simply never been erased.
What’s Inside was written for a collection of stories about guns that a friend of mine was assembling.
And so forth.
This particular anthology came about when the editor I had been working with for a number of years fell into difficulties such that I could no longer work for him. At the same time, an editor for whom I had written a story for another short story group, asked me if I’d put together a new volume of my own short stories. Since I had already written and never published a few I agreed, and we worked together to create this collection.
Short stories, I find, are hard to write, but both fascinating to work on, and when successful, enormously satisfying. It was Edgar Allan Poe (a major writer of short stories) who first tried to delineate what the short story form was. In the Twentieth Century, the short story became a staple of American literature and was published in an astonishing array of magazines for a huge readership.
Those days are gone, but happily short stories are still being written and enjoyed.