My first published short story was the rewrite of one I wrote while at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop during the summer of 1979. My instructors over the six weeks were Robin Scott Wilson, Algis Budrys, Carol Emshwiller, Thomas Disch, Damon Knight, and Kate Wilhelm.
Damon, after reading a couple of my lighter stories such as this one, thought I should write comedic science fiction of the Ron Goulart variety. He somehow felt that my comic-book background would help with that, perhaps not understanding that the word “comic” in “comic book” didn’t necessarily mean funny.
In any case, that was the sort of thing I was hoping to get away from. Sometimes, people give us the advice that we should stick to our strengths. But I’ve always felt we should stick to our weaknesses instead. How else are we ever going to improve, to become more than just one-note writers? I always wanted to write the more difficult stories in order to bring my weaknesses up to the level of my strengths so that I could potentially write anything I could dream up. Sticking to strengths never seemed the way to achieve that.
“Brain Drain” appeared in the July 1981 issue of Potboiler, and was the first of three stories I was to publish in that magazine.