Erin Keating’s story “The Future in a Wash Basin” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 18 March 2022.
“The Future in a Wash Basin” began at the end.
When I’m coming up with ideas for stories, I tend to think of interesting or unusual images that I can build a character and a world around. For this story, that image was of a woman scrying in a compact mirror. From there I worked backward, trying to figure out who this woman was and what she saw in the mirror. At first, I liked the idea of telling multiple connected stories about an entire lineage of women, each one scrying into a different object—but as I explored that idea, it quickly grew out-of-hand for a short story.
Instead, I traced the story back to the matriarch and decided to begin there. Once I decided to focus the story on Siobhan, the plot fell into place. I knew that I wanted to center the story around a specific moment in Siobhan’s life that would affect the fate of the rest of her line and which could be grounded in a real, historical moment. In the early drafts of this story, the final scene jumped ahead to the perspective of Bridget—Siobhan’s great-great-granddaughter—scrying into a compact mirror and looking back into the past.
Metaphorosis’s editor, B. Morris Allen, requested a rewrite of the story, which led to me re-imagining the way Siobhan’s visions worked. Because I began at the end, Siobhan’s choice had felt inevitable and her visions pointed to one future. During my revisions, I worked to show that multiple paths diverged from her decision. In doing so, I also ended up cutting that final scene from Bridget’s perspective, so that the piece had a clear focus on Siobhan. These revisions helped me home in on this crucial moment for Siobhan where her heritage and her legacy intersect.
In the end, this story was inspired by an image that didn’t make it into the final version. That just means that I have another story to tell! While I figure out exactly what Bridget is scrying in her compact mirror, I hope that you enjoy “The Future in a Wash Basin.”
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