The Story Behind the Story: “I’m Blue.”

I’d like to clarify that the first person voice of “I’m Blue,” is a woman. This story started with a previous flash “Three Chicas” (published in Ghost Town) where I introduced Alejandra, the narrator of this story. I was so taken by her that I wanted to write a whole novel. So I did research and had a lot of her backstory developed from where her grandparents were from, what her father did, to how her brother was arrested for treason. But a novel is a long commitment that seduces you like a heavy opiate and it doesn’t let you go for years.

A publication issue a theme that they wanted stories that use magical realism, a form that I love, and many of my earlier works used that technique. I had recently been bombarded in social media by the terrible news of children eating out of garbage cans and people jumping off buildings because they could not cope with the political unrest in Venezuela. My mind was way deep in Alejandra’s world, so I thought of the metaphor of the blue macaws that roam the city of Caracas and have made it their home.

I wanted this story to feel more like a poem, a meditation, so I used the Hemingway Iceberg theory, where you strip out everything to the most essential words. Even though you omit the backstory, you feel what they have gone through. Everything in this story is something that is going on for real in Venezuela. It rips me to the core when I realize that I’m just touching the surface. Thank you so much for reading.

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About L. Vocem

L. Vocem is a Venezuelan-American writer whose work has appeared recently in riverSedge Journal, Litro Magazine, Ghost Town, Wraparound South, The Seventh Wave, and Azahares Literary Magazine. One of his stories made the shortlist for London Magazine’s 2018 Short Story Prize. Older works have been published in The Americas Review, Magic Realism, Well Versed, storySouth, Zoetrope All-Story Extra. He has a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art, and attended the Iowa Summer Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Johns Creek, Georgia and works for Morehouse School of Medicine. To read more stories visit lvocem.com.