Where Do Our Desires Come From? (Want as Tradition)

Owl City: I steal, therefore...

I’ve been thinking about comments that darby and Mike Meginnis made on Amber’s recent post “I Don’t Like Crap Games.” In response, darby wrote:

[…] im saying dont think/worry about what editors want. dont worry about “what they like.” read what you like and write what you like. dont study a journal just to try to get published by them. first, you should love what you write. then you should love what you read. then think about maybe this fits here maybe.

Mike then added:

Yeah, I pretty much agree with Darby’s thinking on this. When editors ask me to figure out what they like I don’t think very much of them. That’s their job. My job is to make what I like. Sure, it’s possible to take that attitude too far, but editors who want fewer submissions can limit their window for slush or etc. I want everyone to submit to Uncanny Valley who wants to so I can choose the best possible, coolest work. I don’t want them worrying in particular about what I want. And I never worry too much about what they want.

I agree with Darby and Mike (and I admire Mike’s editorial stance); I’ve said things like this myself: writers should write whatever they want to write, and damn everyone else’s eyes.

But today I want to try thinking past that thought. Why do I want to write what I want to write? And is it really entirely my decision?

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Anatomy of a Flash: Kim Chinquee

Kim Chinquee’s new stunning collection Pretty is now out from White Pine Press.

Here we present “Boom Box,” an uncollected story from NOON, followed by a short interview. Thanks to Diane Williams for letting it be republished.

Boom Box

Last night I had a dream about a boom box. It played a salsa tune made into something hip-hop. It was loud and hurt my ears and then I awoke from the dream.

I was lying next to Daniel. His house was always cold, but his comforter was warm. I lay there for a while, thinking of the boom box, its beat still ringing in my ears. In reality, it was a song that Daniel had written for his nephew’s seventh birthday, making it with everything he had, it as if it were the only birthday. Yesterday, after he was finished, I listened to the song on Daniel’s headphones. I listened to his favorites, songs that he had written. He hoped to be a professional musician. Now, after thirteen years of relying on the prospects of his music, he had a day job working with computers. I knew about regret. I sensed his disappointment.

Yesterday, he told me he wasn’t giving up his fantasy of finding the right woman. He told me that he loved me. He also told me that I was not that woman.

After I awoke, I looked at the empty beer bottle sitting on the corner of the nightstand, next to my ticking golden watch, which my ex-husband bought for me the day after we were married. Yesterday, after Daniel mentioned soul mates, I told him that some time ago, after my husband left me, I stopped believing in that kind of thing. I was skeptical of anything dreamy and romantic.

I turned over in the bed. When we slept, our bodies shaped together into one. He opened his eyes and readjusted. His skin was soft and warm and I felt him up against me. I didn’t want to leave him. I thought about the dream, about the boom box. I wasn’t the right woman. I wondered about the reality of soul mates. I pulled his arms around me. He put his hand up to my face and then he touched me. He told me that he loved me. He had such tidy fingers. He touched me in places that I do not name.

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