“Billy Echo,” at The Outlet (Electric Literature).

I’m thrilled to have my short story, Billy Echo, up at Electric Literature’s “The Outlet” blog.
A preview:

We all forgave Billy his silences because, truth be told, understanding him was a few yards past impossible. His first words were “Gimme gimme,” not because he said it twice but because the echo was already there. At first no one noticed. Some thought it a stutter. His grandmother, the first to see his lips didn’t move with his words, said, “That boy’s not right.” She said that about most, so it was ignored. But by the time Billy and I had reached our double-digit years, by the time we noticed girls and their differences and how we might feel about them, the echo had gotten worse, words overlapping from the moment he started the first syllable. Billy gave up on talking much at all.

Without thanks.

This post by my agent got me thinking about the role of assistants and interns in the publishing world. Seems that an intern at a agency was tweeting her comments about submissions. Why would she do that? None of her tweets were especially helpful for others thinking of submitting work. They were… what were they? About her. To get attention. To make sure people gave her thanks.
The interns I know do the work without thanks, or kudos, or glory. They want to be a part of bookmaking.
I had a wonderful conversation with an agency intern because he is undergoing the heavy debate of whether or not to enter an MFA program. He loves writing. He wants to be good at it. He thinks about it and cares about it and worries about it. THIS IS THE TYPE OF PERSON YOU WANT READING YOUR WORK. He isn’t looking for thanks. He’s looking for good writing.
I attended BEA and walked from the convention center to a restaurant with my agent and her assistant, a former intern. My agent and I were looking for drinks. Her assistant was looking for more books. She was carrying about forty pounds of books as we walked all over the west side of Manhattan looking for chicken wings and Kamikazes. THIS IS THE TYPE OF PERSON YOU WANT READING YOUR WORK.
I read at the Brooklyn Book Festival and after the reading a gaggle of people arrived at the signing table. At the head of the group was my agent’s former assistant, a former intern, now a brilliant agent in her own right. She is a person who spends HOURS reading that other people spend watching television, dawdling, or, heaven forbid, simply lazing about. THIS IS THE TYPE OF PERSON YOU WANT READING YOUR WORK.
None of them tweet their comments about submissions. None of them look for someone to shine a light on them. They are about the books, the writing, the people who are involved in the process who care so much about what books can be that they forget to try and shine themselves.
And that is what makes them shine.
I am thankful every single day that I have an agent who is supported by such brilliant people.