So I'll have a couple of feature magazine pieces coming out this month. One for Avenue and another for a magazine I'll not name right yet. I've done some feature writing for mags before; I like to be able to work on a big canvas, 7-8,000 words, but pieces like that are tough to sell (not coincidentally, it's tough to sell fiction at that length, too, which is where most of my stories fall, so that's always an uphill slog). But every so often you get an editor looking for a longer piece that allows me to stretch my legs, or else I write a long piece and work really hard to get someplace to publish it.
The following piece, Precious Cargo, is one of the latter. It is a piece very dear to my heart, which maybe sounds corny as hell—but so what? It's the truth. I loved that year, loved driving those kids. My fear is that I've not done the experience the justice it deserves, or that I've written something—parts, at least—where my recollections and sense of things doesn't jibe with the recollections of the kids or their parents. It's tough. Fiction is fiction—you don't really carry a huge burden of responsiblity with it (anyway, not with the fiction I write). Nonfiction is different, because there are people, kids, behind the words. So I hope I did a good and accurate job. I hope my feelings and joys translate onto the page. I really do.
My thanks to Kathe Lemon and the staff at Avenue for doing such a good job on it, and my thanks to my sources for volunteering their time. My thanks to the parents of the students on bus 3077. Most crucially, my thanks to the kids who rode on the bus. It was a hell of a year for me. Great year.
It's a long piece. If you're not a fan of reading off a computer screen, well, this might not be the piece for you.
All best, Craig.