About “The River Fell”

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A little bit about my story at WhiskeyPaper, “The River Fell.”

Fast Facts

First draft written: September 2014

Number of drafts written: 2-3

Number of rejections: 0

From submission to publication: 3 months

The idea

I go through stretches where I walk along the river every day. Usually in the morning. Yes, one of those mornings, I did come across someone I know sneaking a smoke. It did make me think about being in on a secret with someone. About catching someone in that moment of vulnerability.

There was also a boy in college and whiskey. It was in a creative writing class with Clyde Edgerton. We had to act out short stories. His skit involved whiskey as a prop. He took a long drink and just for that moment, he was someone completely different. Then it was over.

I teach about sexuality as a college professor. Maybe I think about it more than most, I don’t know. I’m certain it’s an infinitely complicated thing; you can’t really hope to understand it. I have so often been blind-sided by the unexpectedness of desire. I guess that’s also part of what this story is about.

But mostly I wanted to write about the river, because I love the river. There is not enough I can say about the river, but I will go on trying.

2015-03-14 19.26.46Being solicited

This was my first ever solicited story, by the wonderful, amazing, not-enough-words-for-how-spectacular, Leesa Cross-Smith at WhiskeyPaper. So, yay! I was happy to write something that would fit the aesthetic of WhiskeyPaper. I like writing to a specific journal, a specific style, a specific audience. I like the idea of writing something that might please someone in particular. I like that especially when I already love what that someone in particular writes, which is true for Leesa. I think it’s okay to bend yourself one way or another as a writer, towards different styles and different audiences. That seems like good exercise and a way to help you get closer to the core of what you want to write and what you want to say.

The lost line

The story was longer, and then my husband read it and said, “Cut it here.” So I did. But there was a line that got lost: “All the river does is look beautiful for us. Every day.” Which is exactly how I feel. The river is never the same. Some days smooth as glass. Some days rough and broken. Some days, with a mist coming up, you’re really not sure the river is even out there anymore.

I don’t know what else to say, except I don’t know how people live without some body of water close enough to love on a daily basis.


Later this year, I have a chapbook coming out with Leesa and her husband, Loran Smith’s, new press, WhiskeyPaper Press. You can order their first chapbook, Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out, by Robert James Russell, here. The stories are really great, so you need this book.

More about my chapbook later, but I can tell you for certain that there’s baseball involved.


  1. (” I don’t know what else to say, except I don’t know how people live without some body of water close enough to love on a daily basis. “)

    I’ve always felt that way about our river or any body of water. It’s nice to hear others feel the same way.


  2. Katey Brichto says

    Beautiful, Robyn. I too marvel over the ever-changing aspect of the river. And now you’ve made me wonder about all the secrets it keeps.

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