Finding the Form with Susanne Fletcher
I wrote the first draft of “Ghosting” in 2017 and thought I had the final version by the fall of 2018. My husband, who edits most of my writing, advised he did not buy the flirty on-line relationship between grieving Rhonda and Richard, the potential buyer of an elliptical trainer she was selling. I ignored his insight and began to send out the story to potential publishers.
The original story was half the length of the published version and focused on banter between Richard and Rhonda. Most of the story was dialogue with a ton of sexual innuendo. I had a lot of fun writing it. It was silly and light but none of the characters had a backstory to hold up their actions. Reading those earlier drafts now I cringe and am horrified that I submitted them to a dozen Canadian literary magazines.
Following each rejection, I tweaked the story here and there but resisted starting over. In this story’s folder on my computer are eight slightly different versions of the story with two separate titles. Finally, after so many rejections, I listened to my editor’s advice, rewrote the story, and gave it a new name.
I kept the basic premise that Rhonda – grieving and vulnerable – engages in an on-line “flirtationship”. I added Rhonda’s adult daughter, Alex, to create tension in the story. Mostly, I allowed myself more time and space within the story to show why Rhonda would participate in such an unlikely situation and how she changes as a result.
Susanne Fletcher is a hat-loving, sock-knitting individual that lives in Ottawa near Sawmill Creek, one of the Rideau River watershed’s many streams. Her daily walks along a path that follows the creek’s route offer sightings of foxes, ducks, myriad birds, and the occasional beaver. Susanne’s poetry, non-fiction, and short stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Bywords, Flo, and others.