The snow blower

Photo credit: Stock photo from


“The snow blower” is a short story that I wrote and submitted to the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest 2012. Yesterday the winners and runner ups were announced to the submitting authors. My story did not receive a place in this contest. It was, however, an extraordinary experience for me to participate in this contest and I look very much forward to reading the winning entries in the Winter issue of the Ploughshares Literary Magazine. Meanwhile I hope to receive some feedback from other writers and/or readers on my story. I have posted my short story, which is just short of 4 000 words on Fictionaut and it can be read here. If you are not a member of Fictionaut, please be so kind as to leave your comment here (below this blog post). I would appreciate any feedback from the bottom of my heart.

I have read my story again and see things wrong with it, but I am blinded by my own subjectivity, and at the same time I am afraid to ruin it. Criticism is therefore most welcome!


9 thoughts on “The snow blower

  1. I can’t see anything wrong – I guess I got it at the first go, without having to look up much. But maybe I just ran over some linguistic obstacles … You evolved a veritable horror story – from a quarrel about a trifle to a bitter end. I am very happy that it is partly just fictitious, but the general “psychological scenery” sounds really rather bleak. I suppose you must have written it with lots of lifeblood and maybe with a grin of gree.

    • Thank you, Martin. I am especially grateful that you read such a long text in a language that is not your first language, and which you are mastering quite beautifully too, I must say.

      In the story I wanted to take human error to the limit on a stark canvas. At the time of writing I was influenced not only by a real Siberian front, but also by literature written by Polish authors about Siberia and about Czech people.

  2. I liked it, if like is the right word for the tragedy. Very bleak, ruthless portrayal of marriage and being suffocated by small-town-hood. The comedy about the car keys and the snowblower fuel was laced with arsenic.
    I did feel the children were oddly missing from that scene of being caught in the snow in the car (after the twins’ initial wailing). I would have expected them to be a lot more vocal about their predicament, or Anita to be more protective or something. I had to check twice to make sure that they were all there with her. Lena felt to me like a very touching character, caught between the irrationality and fights of the adults.
    And the dialogue between husband and wife did feel at times too ‘correct’ – full sentences, good grammar, no contractions… Do people really speak like that to their nearest and dearest? On the other hand, of course, you may be showing precisely that: just how stilted they have become with each other.
    Great sense of atmosphere, love the way the snowswept landscape and the freezing cold almost become main characters in the story.

    • Thank you so much for reading my story, Marina, and apologies for my tardy response. You are absolutely right about the kids appearing to be missing, because the story wasn’t about them. They were important to the context of the story in terms of the conflict that the parents’ found themselves in, in life, and in marriage. And in a short story, one needs to get to the point, so I focussed on developing the two main characters. In terms of the dialogue, I definitely need to work on that. Another writer made a very useful comment about that on the Fictionaut website.

      Your feedback is very much appreciated, Marina. It is gold for the emerging writer, and probably also for the writer that has arrived.

    • I agree with you, Abi, that this is not a story to love, but it is about love that has gone, and that that is a disaster, and indeed, it is preventable when people pay attention … are aware. The fact that you wanted to shout means that my artwork succeeding in evoking that feeling of utter (preventable) despair. Thank you for reading it. I know that it was a grim tale.

  3. What seems like an ordinary domestic quarrel is merely the tip of the iceberg…self esteem, overblown egos, too much time in the getting and spending, have caused this family to “unlove” each other. Each member of this family was unto himself or herself, not working toward a cohesive loving family unit…but involved with the petty affairs of the day…it’s only when it is threatened by Anita’s utter frustration and lack of self worth that she takes a step too far and the utter disintegration of all follows. This is written in a suspenseful manner, with attention to petty detail which foretells tragedy. You may not have won a prize, but the story is sound….tragic and real. Excellent work, Q!

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