"Circus Girl" was the first piece of short fiction I ever published. It took very little effort and I was paid a handsome sum. In Pinocchio, the little wooden boy goes to Toyland and has a wonderful time before he's turned into a donkey and forced to do a lot of work. My writing career has been pretty much the same.
Sometime before writing the piece, I had emceed a wedding and danced with a girl named Jenny who told me a story about how she had once broken both her arms. At the same time, I was enduring a certain level of heartache and the two ideas coalesced: the broken arms and a broken heart. I don’t know if the real Jenny has ever read this, but if she does hopefully she’ll think my prose is better than my dancing.
This is the only piece I've ever published that I sold on my first try. I think every writer gets one of these, so if it hasn't happened to you yet, enjoy it when it comes. It's a glorious feeling, akin to getting a hole in one, hitting a grand slam, or saying the right thing to the right person at just the right moment in time.
"Circus Girl" originally appeared in Geist, Vol 52 (2004). Listen to it above or read the full version here