Homesickness prompted the writing of “Snowbirds” as I was living in Australia when I wrote this and I missed the cold, quiet nights I used to have with an old friend. And I missed the snow too and remembered it well.
This happened some years ago, in Montreal. However, reality wasn’t so neat. It was summer and I was alone when I saw the women in their bar fight, but winter, and I was with my friend, when I noticed the drug dealers and also that was the time of year we went more often.
At first the story was a series of events, over different nights and different seasons, alone and with company. Truer to reality, I suppose. It was pretty awful. My writing was erratic and lazy and I think I was trying to be smarter than I am. That draft is long gone. Afterward I wrote a longer piece, about 4500 words, in the third person, but it rambled needlessly and, in fact, took me many, many days to write. Later, I wrote the story again, shorter and in first person and thought maybe it was good.
Most of my writing has been influenced by John Steinbeck and Farley Mowat. This piece owes a lot to Steinbeck’s short stories, most notably “Breakfast”.
And I’m super stoked it won the 2014 Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize, so thank you!