This is technically a day early — the issue officially goes live tomorrow — but according to my Google alerts emails, the page is active and already getting traffic, so screw it: I have a new story online!
I’m really excited about it. So sue me.
As I mentioned a few days ago, this is the first of a slew of new stories I’ll have in print over the next month or so. This one, “It Was the Only Way,” appears in SOL: English Writing in Mexico.
In that post a few days ago, I explained a bit about the plot — Mexican-American woman gets sent back to Mexico after a divorce and has to find her own way again — but what makes this story so interesting for me, personally, is that it started out as a dream. That happens to me now and then, but only twice have I dreamed a story in which “I” (not me as myself, but the perspective of the dream) was a woman. The first time it happened, I turned the dream into the basis for my dissertation novel. The second time it happened, I was the woman in this story.
And the bones of this story were all in the dream — the divorce, the loneliness in Mexico, the awkward but ambitious young politician that everyone calls “El Chino,” the young boy with a fist of nails…. Even the burned coffee and dusty concrete floor in the convenience store at the very beginning were part of the dream. The story itself needed a lot of fleshing out to make it all work, but those basic elements were all in the dream, more or less in order. And in the dream, “I” was Guadalupe.
Incidentally, I have been to Piedras Negras, where (and when) this story is set. There’s a moment in the story when El Chino points to a church in town and tells Guadalupe that he built it with the help of a Presbyterian congregation that drove down from Texas. I was part of that church group, back in the `80s, that built that church. I helped shingle the roof.