Exploring the art of prose


Tag: Metaphor

Interview: Laura Spence-Ash

Image is the book cover for BEYOND THAT, THE SEA by Laura Spence-Ash; title card for the new interview with CRAFT Editor in Chief Courtney Harler.

  In this new interview, Editor in Chief Courtney Harler corresponds with Laura Spence-Ash, author of one of this year’s most-anticipated debut novels, Beyond That, the Sea. Spence-Ash is also a former editor and cofounder of CRAFT, and we’re thrilled…

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Ghosts by Amy Stuber

alt text: image shows chain link fence in the foreground and vinyl siding in the background; title card for the short story "Ghosts," by Amy Stuber

  People will say Ry must have planned the robbery for weeks. They’ll want purpose and emotion and strategy. They’ll say she had a gun tucked into a pocket. They’ll say she must have been desperate: four kids at home…

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Author’s Note

I’ve struggled with writing this author’s note because it’s easy to feel like a big fraud as a writer, as in who am I to talk about craft? I drafted several versions and deleted them. Those versions included ideas like: stories have to make you feel something (I mean, of course); write the things that stick with you, that won’t go away (also not that revelatory); don’t write the static stories that are pretty but lack tension (also not particularly earth-shattering craft advice).

I think the biggest thing that I have to say about writing as it relates to this story is this: shut down your impulsivity as much as you can when you are drafting something. Quiet whatever Submittable forces are conspiring to make you think you have to SUBMIT RIGHT NOW and let a story sit. Draft and then think about it a few weeks from now. Read the draft on your phone while you’re walking, or print it and read it on paper if that helps you. Wait for the next submission round if needed.

Anyway, because I’m a slow learner, I wrote a draft of this story and quickly, impulsively submitted it immediately after three things happened:

  1. I was driving my teenagers to school. They were complaining about this test or that homework assignment. I was out of windshield wiper fluid, and the sap from the walnut tree I parked under made my windshield a blurry mess. We drove past these two little kids walking up the hill of the busy street we drove every morning. The kids were happy and talking and oblivious to the traffic, and it made me so nostalgic for my own kids being little that it felt like physical pain.
  2. A woman robbed a bank in my neighborhood. She was young, and she wore a leopard-print hat. She was apparently walking around the neighborhood where I live carrying maybe a gun or a knife and a pink cloth bag full of money.
  3. A few loud, ground-shaking booms occurred near my house. They rattled my old house’s windows. I found out later the police were conducting explosives training at a 1950s building that had once housed a movie studio, a building that was slated for demolition in the next few weeks.

I knew right away these three events were somehow going to go together in a story, so, in an excited fever, I wrote a draft and submitted it immediately to a few magazines, and it was, over the next weeks, rejected. I went through the usual, “I’m a terrible writer, I suck, this will never be anything” reactionary response. Then I reread the draft and saw all the holes and all the places that needed revamping and tightening and connection and emotion and different words or fewer words and more tension.

I rewrote it about ten times, and still, in editing, CRAFT’s amazing editors found about ten times when I said “things” instead of something more precise and about ten “blah blah blah, which” sentence constructions hanging around in annoying ways. My point, I guess, is something we all know but don’t always do: think about process as much or more than product. Slow down. Wait. Enjoy writing. Enjoy revising. Take your time. That’s all.


AMY STUBER is a fiction writer living in Lawrence, Kansas. She edits flash fiction for Split Lip Magazine. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction America, American Short Fiction, Copper Nickel, The Cincinnati Review, West Branch, New England Review, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the Northwest Review Fiction Prize (2021) and a runner up for The Missouri Review Editors’ Prize (2022). Find her on Twitter @amy_stuber_.