Things Improbable!

Nothing like a contributor copy in the mail!Nothing like a contributor copy in the mail!

One of my lockdown fixations in 2021 was to reach 100 rejections. Though I harbor some regrets turning away mid-draft from a novel, it did lead to my most successful year of writing short fiction. Knowing that the worst outcome of a submission was getting one step closer to meeting my goal lowered the barrier for trying new ideas and let me just throw something together.” (Not submitting because I’m worried a story won’t be good enough before the deadline is a form of perfectionism and is a sure path to procrastination.)

When Improbable Press put out a call for stories about cryptids I took it as another opportunity to put something on the page and, at least, get a step closer to 100. I was delighted to be offered publication, though not for the original cryptid anthology. Though the delay was unfortunate, working with Atlin Merrick has been great, and I’m very pleased with the final product from Improbable Press. 

The Other Mid-Autumn” is the story closest to my own experiences growing up in Hong Kong. Writing from a more personal vein has never been easy for me. In part, I believe, because of the same impulse that that leads to obfuscation of story—if the reader doesn’t understand the implications of what’s happening on the page, then they can’t possibly make an accurate judgment of the story—or of me. 

Reading through the story now, I’m struck by how the use of elements that have implicit meaning for me (lights of passing cars, the geography of the city, finding space alone among strangers) results in something evocative that I can’t quite put my finger on. Whether that’s because it touches on experiences intimately familiar to me or because the subtext is richer for all those associations, I don’t know. 

Reginald Gibbons likes to borrow the psychoanalytical concept of an object as fodder for creative work: the things, events, people, and concepts that have particular resonance for us and bring onto the page an inimitable richness. For me, Hong Kong is one such object, but with its multitudes the word seems inadequate. Yet it’s easy to dismiss my feelings in the same way we’re inclined to dismiss all the things that set us apart.

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