• When I finished the first draft of this story, I brought it into workshop and sent it along to a college friend of mine. Interestingly, both my workshop instructor and the friend attached to the same line—the half-raw risotto. My instructor said it was the truest line in the story, while my friend said that line rang so false it almost ruined the story for him.

  • I annotated this copy while I was in workshop, so a lot of the notes are paraphrased from my instructor and fellow workshoppers' comments on the piece. One of the key discussions in the workshop was content versus language—my instructor felt that the language should be secondary to the content, while I’ve always felt that the story is less important than how it’s told.

  • One of my favorite parts of the story is Sarah’s cookbook, as well as the kinds of food she’s associated with. I like the idea of taste without substance—herbs, licorice, diet soda, and broth are all kind of non-foods, but they pack strong flavors—and now that I’m writing this, the idea of taste over substance seems closely related to my preference for language over content.

  • This is the shortest story I’ve ever written, and the quickest too. I look back on it wistfully as I wade through the snarls of my current project, remembering how clean it felt to write this piece so confidently.

  • Behaving badly was one of my workshop’s focuses, and this last page was a brief map of the characters, trying to decide who was on their worst behavior in the piece. The suspicion won by a landslide.

  • When I sent the story to my mother, she was excited to be reminded of a spiky little sketch I’d scrawled as a child. It certainly looks up to no good.