Image: A version of an article about this site in the San Francisco Chronicle.
July 1996


New Version Of Charlotte's Mirror

"Charlotte's Mirror" is by far my most problematic story. Although it's only three pages long in print, it's been through dozens if not hundreds of re-writes, none of which entirely satisfy me.

The most recent version shows the results of suggestions by Cherie Brooks, an editor I hired after auditioning about a dozen candidates. Cherie is a playwright herself, but she seems to understand where my stories are headed, and what they're about on a sort of macro level that I can't see. She pointed out, for example, that "Charlotte's Mirror" was at its root a story about envy - about how our commmercial culture manufactures celebrities who are supposedly superior to us as a means to sell products, and how our inchoate discontent with ourselves is a byproduct of this manufactured envy.

Of course, if I had really been thinking about that when I wrote the story, it would have turned out terribly fatuous. There's nothing worse a young writer can do than take herself too seriously. I'm glad I can pay Cherie to think these deep thoughts about both this and some of my other stories.

I still can't say I'm entirely satisfied with "Charlotte's Mirror," but I'm more satisfied with it than I was a month ago. Some day it may even be finished.

Scary Publicity About This Site

I've worked hard to bring readers to this site. I've sent out thousands of postcards and press releases, and hundreds of e-mails proposing the exchange of links, and shaken dozens of hands at Internet schmooze parties. I get mad every time I see other sites being written about, and vow to get as much attention for my site, and myself. I always thought it would be fun to be a celebrity so that I could do things like date Brett from Suede.

That's why I'm surprised at my own mixed feelings about a story that ran June 25 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It was my first major-media exposure, aside from a National Public Radio feature three years ago, and just the sort of thing to impress my parents, who are none too convinced of my artistic talent. And it was certainly a complimentary piece. One colleague who read it said he thought the author was in love with me.

The author, Jesse Kornbluth, is not in love with me, although he is a very nice man. Nevertheless, it was still disconcerting to be written about, rather than writing myself. The subject of a story, I discovered, has very little control over what's in it, and Jesse didn't write what I would have written. It also bothers me that people always seem more excited about my publishing methods than my stories. The whole point of this site isn't REALLY so I can date Jock Soto and Brett from Suede. It's to bring readers to the stories.

Anyway, I've chalked it all up to experience, and I made a lot of Xeroxes for my parents and their friends. Despite all the excitement, visits to this site didn't increase much after the article ran - proof, I think, of how isolated the on-line world remains from the world of print.