Anjali Patel

writer & software engineer

Your Sword, Your Trumpet

“The first time I saw you was at the beginning.”

This is the first line of my story that came out today in The Deadlands. “Your Sword, Your Trumpet” is about two primordial beings/deities/forces who meet at the beginning of time and spend the rest of their individual existences locked in a war of envy, pride, control, and desire.

I wrote the initial drafts in the thick of the first pandemic winter, first during frosty walks with my dog on voice notes and later painstakingly through hand. The revision process was a great indulgence for me. I would return from my walk with Romeo, draw my curtains, light candles, pour tea, and read the whole thing out loud to myself from start to finish, marking my notes in a red pen. I loved giving the story a song and a rhythm and feeling the words roll around my mouth. It took dozens of passes for it to feel right.

And then I burnt out and trunked it. I say “burnt out” after some reflection, because at the time I just came to believe it simply wasn’t any good. I began to fixate on problems I could not diagnose and crit feedback felt more insurmountable than energizing. It stayed in the trunk for years and never thought I would return to it until a friend suggested I make it a goal of mine to go back and revisit my old work.

When I dusted it off and read it with fresh eyes, I fell in love again. I giggled. I swooned. My heart swelled and ached. It is a story perfectly written for me because it was written by me: an epic starring immortals who, despite limitless power, are not immune to human-like vulnerability. It hits a very personal sweet spot.

Even after sending it off on submission, I’ve periodically revisited it to read it out loud to myself. It continues to be a great indulgence and a series of lessons that I’ve applied to drafting my first novel: Step away. Loot the trunk. Make something you love so deeply that you will be willing to revisit it dozens of times over many years.

I am thrilled to see something I took so much joy in creating out in the world. Hopefully you have fun reading it. I certainly had a blast writing it.

You can read “Your Sword, Your Trumpet” in Issue 33 of The Deadlands. Though it is free to read as of today, I encourage you to purchase the issue and support the magazine!