A Mr. Salvador Dhali @King_Saladean on Twitter just tweeted: “You have to be open to introducing new blood into the game in order to survive.” It can be said that much of our life is seeking new blood of some sort or another. We want to be entertained, so we seek novelty, new blood in the form of a person, an experience, a sensation, a happening. We want love, so we seek a new person with whom to experience ourselves as new all over again. (Wow, it just occurred to me that perhaps getting tired of a person, really is just getting tired of how you experience yourself in relationship to that person. And you really only like the new you, the new face you show to people. Boredom with a relationship is really boredom of who you are being in that relationship. But I digress…)
Artists are constantly seeking new blood, whether it be new blood of inspiration, new blood of new works, new blood of a fresh perspective—the blood must run fresh for new ideas to flow. When I went to the Antioch University MFA program, I felt like I had run dry. I still had my talent, my intellect, my faith in my future as a writer, but all the play had left me, the energy to put effort in my work had been squashed down. We had to bring material to be critiqued into our first writing workshop. I had nothing new and was not inspired to create something new. So I brought something old, not only something old, but something that had already been published—nothing new there.
“Rosamojo” was published in the anthology Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson. I didn’t reveal that “Rosamojo” had been published before receiving my critique. I took the critique, and didn’t mention its publication history to anyone. During the critique, they found a gaping hole in the story. In a family drama, after the main character takes an extreme action, I skip to weeks later. What, everyone wanted to know, happened to the mother? Did she know what her daughter had done? If she did, what did she do about it? When the instructor learned that the story was already published, she told me this was not a wasted critique. Stories are always re-published, re-used, reworked, she explained. She promised that I would have the opportunity to address the issues in the critique.
Fast forward to six years later and I am editing my short stories for my forthcoming collection, Ancient, Ancient. When I come to “Rosamojo,” I knew what I had to do. I wrote a new scene with the daughter and the mother—it is intense, emotional, possibly the story’s critical turning point. The thing about new blood is that it’s not always about doing more, sometimes it’s about going deeper in (this is also true, oh so true, of relationships).
The newly-edited “Rosamojo” will appear in a new ebook anthology, Under the Needle’s Eye.
Under the Needle’s Eye Trailer
Under the Needle’s Eye is anthology of 11 of the writers who participated in the 2001 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Clarion West is a six-week speculative fiction writing workshop in which participants write a story a week with six different mentors who are active in the literary field. Our first instructor was the late Octavia Butler. Now a decade+ later, we’ve come together to publish an anthology. The writers in this collection have young adult series, they have won awards and award nominations, they have self published to great success—in other words these are writers at work. If you have an e-reader, check out the collection. This anthology—no matter how old the works are—will be new blood to any readers setting their eyes on these stories for the first time.