Word Crushes

When I first read Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery in high school, I was devastated by its ending. How could that happen? What did it mean? Endless questions swirled around in my brain.

“It was just a story I wrote,” Jackson later said, surprised by the public’s strong reaction to it. Published by the New Yorker in 1948, The Lottery received more mail than any other story up to that point.

Jackson said the plot came to her one day while pushing her daughter in her stroller. She wrote it quickly, making hardly a change, and sent it off to her agent.

Unlike Jackson’s’ experience with The Lottery, most of us don’t find writing to be that easy. Stories mill around in our heads, forming for days or sometimes years, until the characters force their way out through our fingertips. Once we write the story, we still need to find it a home and hope someone will read it.

Which is why I originally created Word Crushes: Lovin’ the Story—a place to promote short fiction for 12 to18-year-olds by sharing markets and calls for submissions, promoting authors and editors of all ages, collecting interviews with editors and authors, and anything else that might strike my fancy. Over time, I saw the sense of merging my website–erinfanning.com–with my blog. Still, this site retains much of its original purpose: the celebration of the short story.

I reread The Lottery recently and its power still captured me. Perhaps that reading led me to start this blog—a celebration of word crushes in all their various forms but specifically stories written for young adults because, after all, that’s when my first short-story crushes began.

It may have been, “just a story,” to Shirley Jackson, but a part of The Lottery will travel with me forever.

3 thoughts on “Word Crushes

  1. Rachel February 18, 2011 / 11:01 pm

    I just read The Lottery. I can’t decide if I’m glad I read it, or not. Powerful, emotion provoking. And I want to know why there had to be a lottery in the first place and why it would lead to stoning.



  2. Erin February 19, 2011 / 9:42 am

    I know exactly what you mean… But even Shirley Jackson didn’t seem to want to enlighten the reader. When Harold Ross, the then-editor of the New Yorker, asked if she had an interpretation of the story, Jackson said, “No.” And later when the phone calls and letters started pouring in, she reiterated, “No. Nothing in particular, it was just a story I wrote.”


  3. geofoodie June 4, 2013 / 9:29 pm

    Your blog helps kids to find their voice, which is so important. Also, because someone was kind enough to nominate me I am passing forward the Very Inspiring Blogger award to you.

    Briefly here are the rules:
    1. Display the award in a blog post (you can grab the image from my blog)
    2. Thank the person who nominated you and include a pingback.
    3. Tell us 7 things about yourself
    4. Nominate 15 other blogs and link them on your site
    5. Let them know with a comment on their blog, and include instructions as to how to accept.


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