This short essay is part of a series called ‘Publication Reflection’ where I look back at my published work. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.
I think “How We Behave” (published by Valparaiso Fiction Review) is one of my favorite pieces I’ve done. I wrote it in the fall of 2018 and was so in love with it that I used it in my writing sample for MFA applications. According to every ‘veteran’ offering advice at the time, this was a terrible idea, because ‘older pieces are more polished.’ Obviously, my new piece did well for me, considering I got into my dream MFA. So who knows what the best choice is.
This piece was pretty directly inspired by a Disney river cruise I went on with my parents in the summer of 2018. I’m really afraid of Disney though, so I didn’t make direct references. That’s why it’s “the largest entertainment company in the world” and I just describe Mulan instead of actually saying what it is. I was also reaching the end of my own gender journey, finally setting into they/them pronouns and starting to come out to a few people, so I was interested in exploring something that was a little more non-binary. I didn’t want any part of it to feel cut and dry.
One other thing worth mentioning, I think. When VFR promoted my work on their Facebook, they described it as being about a mother coming to terms with her trans child. I thought this was interesting because, in my mind, the mother didn’t have much to do with anything. She was just there. Not the most supportive, necessarily, but not particularly unsupportive. So I don’t know if I agree with them about what the piece was about. But that doesn’t really matter, in the end. They published it, and that’s what I really cared about.