The Story Behind the Story: The Hydrant

I'm the first to admit that "The Hydrant" isn't a story. It's really a character sketch. But writing it was one of my most favorite writing experiences ever.

I was working as an editor at A Major Publishing Company. During a Lunch and Learn workshop, we did a writing exercise. We were presented with an excerpt from the work of comic artist Will Eisner: a series of panels depicting an immigrant woman who lived in a broken-down building collecting water from a hydrant, carrying it back to her room, and feeding her baby.  Almost instantly the words of the "story" came to me. I couldn't write fast enough. At no time since have words flowed from my fingers the way they did during that exercise.

Some day, I'd like to acquire a copy or a print of that page. so I can post the text with the images that inspired it. I can't even find the image online to link to. (Seriously, my image search led to some rather interesting and scary results.) But if you'd like to see the panels, they're on page 65 of Eisner's  graphic novel, New York: The Big City.


Click here to read "The Hydrant."