It’s odd how a thing long forgotten can suddenly return to your life in a cluster of separate incidents. Recently, the literary journal Short Story devoted an issue to my work and asked to reprint the first story I published. Now the estimable Fictionaut has independently arrived at the same notion. I have twice in the past year returned to that first publication, a short story entitled “Moving Day,” reading it myself as if someone else had written it.
It appeared in the October, 1974, issue of Redbook. I wrote it in the midst of my early, autodidactic days of striving to be an artist, when I was mostly writing pretty badly by the standards I was trying to set for myself. But this is a good story. For a brief time, I had access to the roiling heat of my unconscious before I drew back into the cool willfulness of my mind, where things were safe and mediocre. It would take seven more years–with my novel The Alleys of Eden-before I would publish again from my artistic unconscious.
There are twelve full-length plays, 44 short stories, and five novels–all, thankfully, unpublished–from those days of struggle and failure. To my creative writing students, I have always referred to that output as “my million words of dreck.” I can’t remember a word from those stories and novels and plays, and I am reluctant to go back and look. “Moving Day,” however, pleasantly surprised me.
I wrote the story about a year after returning from my tour of Army duty in Vietnam. I was living on 13th Street in New York City.
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