The Story Behind the Story: “What We Don’t Say Out Loud”

Back in 2011, I attended a seminar being taught by Amy Hempel and while I’d read her short fiction, I had not heard her speak or explain her process before that day.  What stood out to me and ultimately shaped this story in particular, was her reference to “work” or rather, the fact that she wanted to see more fiction about the kind of work the characters in stories are engaged in.  When she said it, it was like a lightning bolt. I knew exactly what she meant and simultaneously, I knew that it was something I could incorporate into my writing.  I soon realized how rich in possibilities such stories could be when discussing the intricacies and interesting aspects of both the common and uncommon jobs that fill our daily lives.

For this story in particular, I drew from a time when I worked part-time at a movie rental store, a mom and pop version of Movie Gallery or Blockbuster when those were the only places one could rent movies, well before the internet took over the market.  I figured a story loosely based on the types of people I met there might just work.  I’m glad it did.

About Jami Kimbrell

Jami Kimbrell was born and raised in Bonifay, Florida and she is currently a trial attorney practicing in Tallahassee, Florida where she lives with her husband and poet, James Kimbrell and their four children and three dogs. She holds a B.A. Degree from Florida State University in Literature and her J.D. from Florida State University College of Law. Her short fiction has previously appeared in Word Riot, Monkeybicycle, Vestal Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, New South, and Tin House Online.




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