A One-Year Retrospect

Manahil Bandukwala

On November 11, 2018, three friends outside Elgin Street Diner for half an hour, waiting to get seats. A throwaway comment from Alicia, proclaiming that she would someday love to edit an anthology of romance stories, blossomed into a tangible book, You Hit Me With Your Car (and Other Love Stories). At this moment, all my gratitude goes to Paige and Alicia, who would not let this idea go without it becoming a reality. 

Although our journey with the anthology isn’t finished yet (we have a launch in Toronto in January), nor is our time as a collective up, there’s something to be said for starting a project and producing a real life object in the time we said we would. 

Forming the Eighteen Eleven Collective and working on You Hit Me With Your Car put me right back into being a second-year student at Carleton who was still figuring out my own writing. I wanted to share some of the beautiful, hilarious moments that have peppered the last year of working on this project. 

Alicia’s initial pitch to the members of the collective didn’t quite make it into the final blurb of the book, but contains the hilarious sentence of: “Romeo and Juliet to the swooning half-naked lady and the hunky shirtless beefcake gracing the cover of your favourite drugstore bodice-ripper.” Do any of the stories in this collection feature half-naked ladies and hunky shirtless beefcakes? No. Do they have Romeo and Juliet-esque love stories? I suppose a forbidden romance between a vampire and a werewolf counts, right?

Speaking of vampires and werewolves, the idea for Julia’s story didn’t even emerge until we met for our first project meeting, probably sometime in March. A conversation about Julia’s desire to write a story about a vampire string quartet turned to “Romeo and Juliet, but make it gay.” We have a penchant for running with ideas, it seems. In one of the editing sessions, we were brainstorming ideas for a character name for “Vampire Quartet.” The description we aimed to fill was, “a white boy lumberjack.” We unanimously settled on Liam. 

When Paige suggested the title of the anthology be named after Browen’s story, “You Hit Me With Your Car,” we couldn’t have said yes fast enough. There’s something greatly enjoyable about saying, “the car is a metaphor,” that leaves the other person puzzling out how such a metaphor works. It makes sense when you read the story. 

This never made it into the final anthology, but at one point we, being the dorks we are, wanted to model the titles of our stories after Browen’s. Disclaimer, this started because of my inability to come up with a title for my story, now called “Dye me in the colour of spring.” Paige quickly shut this idea down, and for that we are grateful. Nothing has the punch of “You Hit Me With Your Car.” 

This project has had its ups and downs. It’s had its moments of, “Why are commas annoying” and “Is a millimeter off the cover really such a bad thing?”  But there were also moments when Cossette saw a picture of the cover and said, “Is it textured???” or said, “Do you think we can ship these to Peru?” The moment of holding the book in our hands for the first time, and thinking, “Wow, we actually did it.”

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