A while back, I wrote a story that featured a talking cat. I usually write realistic fiction, but every once in a while I write something with an element of the fantastic in it. I had been thinking about writing a story about the legend that animals can talk for an hour at midnight on Christmas Eve, but I have no idea how that got transmuted into this story about a talking cat.
After writing the story, I was at a loss for where to publish it. Most of the places I usually send my fiction publish realistic fiction, so I ended up researching places open to magical realism or fantasy. Also, the story was an awkward length, a little too long to be flash fiction, but a little short for a regulation short story. I started sending out the story to places I thought might be interested in such a story, and though I got a lot of positive feedback, no one liked the ending. (If you want to know the original ending, I've described it at the bottom of this post. If not, don't read below the cat picture!)
Time passed as I kept tweaking the ending, and the rejections kept piling up. Then, I had a brainwave. I would cut the story to 1000 words, so I could submit it as flash. I also thought of a brand new ending that I liked and I thought editors would like. I gave the piece a new, better title. And voila! It got picked up. I'm extremely happy that this story has now found a home at Counterexample Poetics.
The talking cat stuffed Christmas ornament in this picture was one of the story-themed gifts I got from my writer's group, as I described in my post Holiday Gifts from My Writer's Group. You'll notice that there is ANOTHER stuffed taking cat in the picture on that post. Yes, this story took so long to reach its final form that I got themed gifts about it multiple years.
Original Ending: In the original ending, Gloria is so upset at Marco that she plans to kill him by feeding him poisoned tuna. Since I thought Marco was both smarter and more wily than Gloria, I never believed she'd succeed. However, a character planning to kill an animal did not go over well with journal editors, even if the animal was a malevolent talking cat. And I see their point, although now I do worry about the family that finally adopts Marco from the shelter.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
© Ann Hillesland 2015-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ann Hillesland with specific direction to the original content.