“Boulder, Rock, Score,” was inspired by the story of Sharon Budd, a middle school language arts teacher and breast cancer survivor who was struck in the head by a 4.7 lb rock thrown from an overpass as her daughter drove them to a weekend in New York City. The incident occurred in the summer of 2014 on Interstate 80, just north of where I live. While the story made international headlines, it was the compassionate and caring coverage from Evamarie Socha of the local newspaper, The Daily Item, that brought this horrific incident down to earth for me. I was gripped for months.
In September of 2014, I sat in a workshop with Sarah Combs at the Kentucky Womens Writers Conference and details from this story began to pour out. I took the narrative POV of the teenage daughter driving the car. The story I crafted would leave the world of the Budd family, but was still rooted in it.
By April 2015, I had a 1,000 word piece of fiction. I contemplated expanding the piece, but just felt that moment of impact was too powerful to stray from. I took the piece to Barrelhouse’s Conversations and Connections conference in Washington, D.C. I sat down with Travis Kurowski, editor of Story, for “speed dating with an editor” and asked him to read the piece. He really honed in on what I was doing, advising me to make it even shorter. He asked if I had much exposure to flash fiction, and I didn’t really but was still trying my hand at it because it’s was the subject matter seemed to need. I took his specific feedback, spent some time reading flash fiction around the web, and pared the piece down to 490 words.
And that piece, those 490 words, amount to my first literary publication credit. Seriously, you guys, my first. I’ve had so much professional work in marketing and freelancing published, yet none of those pieces over the years has made me as excited as these 490 words.