A few months ago, I was asked to give a little of my time as a writer for a good cause. A fellow author had fallen on hard times, and one of my other writer friends – Chisto Healy – had decided to do something about it.
It was a simple ask, a short story for an anthology to help raise funds for the author who had fallen on hard times during the pandemic.
And yet, I had a business to run with my husband Mark, novels to write, and the whole covid-19 to worry about. I put Chisto off, saying I would think about it, and would try to do something if I could find the time.
Life has a funny way of turning you around from “no” to yes sometimes.
I had just wrapped up a novel, and was in that strange interregnum between big writing projects. I was not quite sure what I wanted to do next, or when I would start it. So I’d decided to write a few short stories to send out to the SFF magazine circuit.
Lo and behold, I ended up with an empty week in my writing calendar. And more importantly, an idea.
Chisto’s prompt was simple – write a post-apocalyptic story in which the protagonist is queer and wears lipstick.
The idea came to me as one of those-middle-of the-night things, a title that led me on to a greater story. The Last Human Heart sprung into my head, about a lonely gay human cyborg looking to replace his dying human heart.
Part Mythago Wood, part Road Warrior, and partly inspired by a flash fiction story called Crossville Station by my friend Nathan Alling Long which appeared in the Impact Flash Fiction Anthology, this poignant short story is a blend of mysticism, yearning, defeat and ultimately hope.
I dashed it off in a few days, sent it out to beta, and in short order was able to turn it in. I’m a writer, so even though I was invited to work on this and should have been a shoe-on, I spent a few nervous days biting my fingernails down to the quick while I awaited a response.
Imposter Syndrome never sleeps.
And so I was thrilled when Chisto loved it, and told me I was in. Now it’s here, and I get to share it with all the rest of you.
It feels good to set aside the whole profit and fame thing (like I’m ever gonna find either with my writing LOL) to do something good that helps someone else out, and I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy of this antho now that it’s finally out.
The proceeds benefit trans author S.A. Hunt, but I hope the stories will also put a little more light and love into the world as a whole. We all need a little more light.
To my writer friends, what good have you done for the world with your writing? And did you almost say no?