The Story Behind the Story: “We Can Go Faster”

This piece was originally a prose poem for a mixed genre class I took last spring. It was one long paragraph, windy and chaotic, with more elevated language and a must nastier, malicious voice for Alicia. The original piece focused more on Alicia’s psyche and I realized that I was missing the voice of the narrator and missing the sense of urgency and camaraderie between them.

But of course, I only realized this after sending the prose poem out for a while and consistently seeing it rejected. But I knew the story itself was good. It’s bones were good. It just wasn’t as fine-tuned and fever-pitched as it needed to be. The stakes weren’t high enough. The language and syntax weren’t quite right yet.

So after a few months of distancing myself from the piece to give it time to simmer in my subconscious, I pulled it out one week because I needed a break from novel writing. Those few months away from it really helped me see the piece with fresh eyes and allowed me to overhaul it completely in one night.

In revision, I saved only my favorite lines of description and dialogue and then tried to frame a new narrative around those elements. Lines like “I think the number 100 is a needle and buttons to stitch her skin up” and “The moon is jaundiced. The moon is sick” are from the original piece, but the idea of the Amber Alert and the gruesome necklaces and bracelets the girls have are from the revisions.

The story itself is highly, highly fictionalized, but it is based on two people I knew in high school as well as a friend I used to drive with who had an old blue truck we’d speed down the highway in, headed out of our tiny Pennsylvania town, headed anywhere, going too fast to be safe, the moon keeping watch over us, our moms maybe worried, maybe not, about where we were.

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About Kathryn Hill

Kathryn Hill is an MFA candidate in fiction at Arizona State University where she also teaches and reads prose for Hayden's Ferry Review. Her flash fiction has appeared at AGNI Online, Gigantic Sequins, Monkeybicycle, Passages North, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2016 Innovative Short Fiction Prize from The Conium Review and she was a recipient of a 2016 Virginia G. Piper Global Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter at @kathelizhill.