HOW A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT BECAME A STORY BECAME A PLAY BECAME A STORY AGAIN & WAS PUBLISHED THIS WEEK

A twelve-year journey from my brain to (perhaps?) yours
  1. The year: 2004. The setting: one of America's finest military academies.
  2. I become a vegetarian.
    It had been coming for a while. To this day, if my mom sees a little girl eating a salad in McDonald's, she remarks on how the child reminds her of me.
  3. I take a ton of flak.
    Which makes no sense. One, if I don't want to eat flesh, it seems like a personal decision. Two, we are fed family style, so my abstinence means more meat for the rest of my squad.
  4. So I devised a thought experiment.
  5. You are on a deserted island with a person and a cow. Given that your survival is contingent on staying alive as long as possible in the hope you will be found given enough time, which of the two do you eat first?
    The person is the logical choice. Either you're sharing half a cow with the person, or you're getting a whole person and a whole cow (let's just assume food spoilage is a non-issue).
  6. Mostly I was just being ridiculous to get people off my back.
  7. Fast forward five years. I'm assigned to a ship and living in an unlovely suburb an hour north of Seattle.
  8. I walk around the neighborhood daily with my dog.
  9. I notice a pair of adorable, grubby children. I notice their garage is full of food. I notice it contains too a gliding rocker and a religiously-themed tapestry.
  10. I notice an old blue truck sporting a pair of metallic testicles on the bumper and handles on either side of the cab in the form of naked women.
  11. I write a story. I name it "The Desert." I workshop it in an online class.
    It's probably the first story I really worked on seriously.
  12. ...and I sit on it.
  13. Fast forward three years. I've completed my active duty, I'm pregnant, and I'm living in a new city where I know almost no one.
    My husband is involved in building a start-up, so I am alone a lot.
  14. I decide to adapt "The Desert" into a one-act play, and do.
  15. I have no idea what to do with a play. So I Google around and find out there's an annual festival, the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, for which my play and I qualify.
    I send it off.
  16. I get a staged reading!
    February, 2013. My first kiddo was nestled into a Baby K'tan and I got to watch a group of actors on stage with my lines.
  17. I go home with tons of notes and a better idea of how "The Desert" could realistically be staged.
  18. ...and I sit on it.
  19. Fast forward to this winter. I'm approached by an editor of new online magazine Viewscreen.
    They want to explore policy through fiction.
  20. I get wrapped around the axle with excitement. I worry over what I could write. I read a bunch of stuff about defense policy and weaponry. I draw up a list of ideas.
    At the end of my pitch email, I mention "oh, and I have this story, it's also a play, it probably needs a ton of work, but it's about [x]"
  21. The editor: "that last thing sounds intriguing, send it over"
  22. I send it
  23. I wait
    We all have day jobs. It's a passion project.
  24. I hear back: "we love it! We want it!"
  25. I work with the editor on a set of minor edits, and...
  26. ...they get an analyst to write a review essay...
  27. ...and they get a designer to make custom art...
  28. ...and voila. "The Desert" lives online as "A Story Told Over Dinner."
  29. (I seriously cannot even look at that photo though. If you read the story you'll understand.)