The origins of Reno

Many thanks to Kate Schaefer for digging this out of her email archives. I knew I’d written Reno for the Clarion West Write-a-thon fundraiser, but I couldn’t remember which year. The following email was sent to a small group of my friends on July 14, 2006.

The story for Week 4 has an interesting origin. Three seemingly unconnected things suddenly linked in my mind, and I saw a story in them.

First, this week I read a book about Einstein and relativity, and (I’m ashamed to say) I finally get it! My physics class completely failed to cover this topic, and relativity was one of those things I knew I was supposed to understand but never did. Better late than never, I guess. So the concepts of relative time and motion were sinking into my head.

Second, I got the new Cirque du Soleil CD, called Ka. There’s a particular song that for some reason reminds me of the way moons orbit planets, which orbit the Sun, which moves along with the Milky Way–everything spinning, moving, constantly in motion. It’s a very romantic melody and I find it inspiring.

Finally, the title. Sometimes I write down titles that I think are neat, but I have no idea what story belongs with them. This particular title has been in my files for a while. I started a version of it a while ago, but the story I wrote didn’t seem to match. I took the title back and used it for this week’s story instead.

“I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno” is a love story between two people who just can’t get in sync. When one wants to be lovers, the other wants to be friends, and then they change their minds again. Add to that the time adjustments caused by nearly-light-speed travel, and they’re got a lot of problems.

It needs a lot of work, but there might be something in this one. I’m going to let it rest for a while and see what it looks like in a few months, when I have some perspective. By then I’ll be able to see what to do with it.

Thanks again, everyone, for all your kindness and support of my work in the Write-a-Thon!

I know I sat on it for a while, because I didn’t send it to my critique group until April 16, 2009. I sent it to a few markets and picked up a few rejections. (Writers take note: rejections are part of the process. A few years ago, Kill Me picked up 18 rejections before selling, and then got six Nebula recommendations.)

Sean Wallace was _very_ excited to purchase it, and at first I thought he wanted it for Fantasy Magazine. Then I heard he was starting Lightspeed Magazine, and he wanted my story for the first issue. I was thrilled. Once it was published, I got a lot of fan mail about the story. As a bonus, it’s one of the few stories I’ve written that’s (almost) Grandma-safe. I can’t say that about most of my work. So it was nice to have Grandma able to listen to one of my stories.

It’s been podcast and it’s going to be reprinted in another language (details when I sign the contract, as usual).

Last bit of trivia: if the Big One hits California, and Shannon and I get separated, our plan has always been to get out of the Bay Area however we can. We’ll try to meet in Reno at a specific place. The title came about when I was thinking, “What do I tell him if I need to convey as much as possible in a few seconds of phone/radio/voicemail connectivity?” My other possible message to leave him is, “Not zombie yet. Have baseball bat.”

And so here we are. Hooray! 🙂

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