Eons ago in 2010 I had my first publication in Asimov’s, a near future SF short story about oceanic technology and global politics titled “Adrift.” I wrote the first draft as part of my Clarion application, and revised it through a haze of pain and drugs during the ten post-Clarion months I was bedridden with Crohn’s disease. I sent it out, got rejected, sent it out again, just going through the motions, the vast majority of my attention consumed by the slow struggle back towards health and the contemporaneous crumble of my long term relationship. September of 2009 found me living alone in an apartment, in a body warped beyond recognition by a long course of prednisone, wondering where the last year had gone. So when I heard from Sheila Williams that she wanted to buy this story for Asimov’s, the good news struck me as a sparkle from very far away. It was like being gifted a fragment from the life I’d thought I’d have, the one where I left Clarion with artistic momentum, wrote more stories, applied to graduate school, began to focus on having a writing career.
Now, half a decade later, I feel I’ve finally arrived at where I thought I’d be in 2009. I’m healthy, I’m writing, I have the momentum of an inspiring fiction program behind me. And in April I’ll have a new story in Asimov’s, my novella “The New Mother.” But being here inspired me to look back at where I was, to reread “Adrift.” To my eyes now–eyes that have been trained by years of graduate workshops and teaching fiction students–it is apparent how the circumstances of its creation influenced the writing. I see, in its mannered sentences, a young man struggling through pain and fear to focus on the version of himself that he hopes, in his best moments, he may still get the chance to be. I see the first examples of some themes and concerns that would recur in my writing through grad school. I see things that make me cringe, and things that make me proud of my own strength. I see the intersection of so many circumstances still echoing in my psyche that, to me, reading this story is like traveling through time. And now, five years after it was originally published, I’m offering it again to you.