Smoking With Michelle Garren Flye

Read the Story June 15, 2005

“She carries a china plate in the space behind her ribcage.” What’s the key to composing perfect first sentences such as this one?

God, I wish I knew. Sometimes that perfect first sentence comes easily like with “China.” Other times, I work and work at it and never quite get it.

If we hold these plates too tightly, tiny cracks appear. At the end, movement and vibration (something you’d think would make that china plate more fragile) mends it. So what are we to do to protect these china plates behind our ribcages?

There is no protection. “China” was written from my own personal experiences as a wife and mother. Loving anyone or anything can be dangerous because it gives an outside force the power to hurt you. But the rewards of love are fantastic. It’s one of the quandaries of life that fascinates me.

Talk to us about the journey this story experienced to find its way into SLQ.

It seems I’m doomed to submit what I feel is my best writing to all the wrong places. China was rejected by multiple markets. I lost faith in it until it was selected as a finalist in the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest. Only then did I summon the courage to submit it to you guys.

How has editing Edifice Wrecked affected your writing?

It’s a little humbling sometimes for me. I mean, the quality of the submissions we receive makes me realize how far I have to go as a writer. And of course, editing has given me a whole new respect for the selection process and the agony editors endure.

Do you have any dirt on our guest editor, SDG? We’d love for you to “dish” some. Dirt on Steven.

Hmmm. Let me think. Well, there was this one time he wrote a story and got it published? No, wait, there was this other time he wrote a story and won an award? Crap. There’s gotta be something.

About the Author:

Michelle Garren Flye lives on the coast of North Carolina with her husband, two sons and a couple of cats. Sometimes she writes. For more information, visit

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.