Liquid Imagination published “The Sea Shall Have Them” in their February 2012 issue. I wrote the original version of this story in the early 1990s after reading an article on the first “Burning Man” gathering in the Nevada Desert (before it became overtly commercialized). I was intrigued by the gathering as a back drop for a man on a personal journey of self-discovery, and I was also intrigued by the idea of contrasting fire with water and the desert with the ocean.
“The Sea Shall Have Them” went through several early iterations, each draft becoming darker. The Burning Man idea fell out and the theme of nautical disasters naturally took shape as a central metaphor in the main character’s life. I finished the original version of the story, a standard first person narrative, and titled it “Nautical Disaster.” It promptly got it rejected from a few markets, and, losing faith in it, I trunked it.
I rediscovered the story last summer, and realized that it had good things in it, but it also had a serious flaw—the first person narration simply didn’t work. I’d been wanting to write a story in an “experimental” style for some time, and I realized that this story would be strengthened by an unconventional narrative structure, so that’s what I did. Instead of telling the story through a first person narrative, I decided to tell the story through a mixture of standard third-person narration, flashbacks, transcripts, and news releases. The story itself is essentially the same as the one I wrote almost twenty year ago, but the manner in which it’s told is very different and I hope much more effective. (Perhaps de Kooning was right: ideas are created much the same and it’s mostly about the craft.)
So head over to Liquid Imagination and check out “The Sea Shall Have Them.” While there, be sure to check out the other stories in the issue.