It feels like a while, even if it hasn’t really been all that long. But here are a few updates on my own writing and some writer friends of mine.
I have a new 225 piece out – this one is on Best of LSU Fiction, which just so happens is edited by two friends of mine, Judy Kahn and Nolde Alexius, which I talked about a little while back. The book is an amazing collection and really absorbing. LSU has a great reputation for fiction writers and if you want to know why, check this book out.
Just heard that Pamela DuMond’s Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys is going to be published later this year! I read an early manuscript a while back, so I’m excited to see the finished book.
And Nick Fox has had not one but two newsletters come out without me updating y’all! So, you can check out excerpts from his summer adventures below.
From the July 2nd newsletter:
Three years of work. Four drafts. 385 pages and 110,343 words. I completed the novel in Cape Cod, at my dear friend Lili Flanders’s place in Truro. That’s the same place I finished my first draft last year.
I completed the final draft in the same chair, at the same table, exactly one year and one day later. This is what I’m talking about with the circles.
The book seems to have followed the arc of my past couple years. I started this novel while I was attending Warren Wilson. I started this novel while I was going through my divorce. The book carried me through both things, and I don’t think I realized how much I depended on it for the past three years. This is something I grew with, something I leaned on when little else made sense. Even the book didn’t make sense for most of the time I was working on it. I almost abandoned it after the first draft. I almost didn’t start it in the first place. I don’t know what made me decide to keep going ahead. There’s something kind of penitent about it. It’s a humbling thing putting together something that you slowly grow to love. I’ve suspected that a penitent man puts out an offering not because he believes the god he serves needs it, but simply so he can remind himself that he has something to offer.
I have 385 pages, and I like what I have. That’s worth three years to me. That’s what I have to offer.
And later in the same update:
You cannot overestimate how important it is for someone who is focused on an art form—any art form—to be around people who affirm that they are making the right choices. They are doing the right thing. I heard a writer at a lecture recently who said, “Writing is done in solitude, but it cannot be done in isolation.” In the end, we feed off each other, and as one person grows and prospers and finds success, everyone around them benefits. A high tide lifts all boats, as Kennedy said.
And from Nick’s more recent August 7th newsletter:
A few days later, Matthew shot me a letter with a quote from Matsuo Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior. It goes like this:
The moon and sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
Basho is Japan’s most famous haiku poet, and he spent most of his life wandering the coast and interior of Japan. Writing. Teaching. Reading. Leading classes that strung together chain poems known as renga, capturing moments in extended quotes, in seventeen syllable cubes. He wrote the above words over three-hundred years ago. And last week, I sat in my friends’ apartment in Chicago, reading them. Taking in this idea, sent three centuries forward, sent from Edo Japan by way of Detroit to me in Chicago. I sat there reading and realized, again, that I was home.
I was home when I was in Chicago in the same way I was home when I was in New Orleans. The same way I have been at home many times over the course of this trip. I felt at home in Maine, in Philadephia, in Vermont. Staring out at America’s only fjord in Mount Desert Island, Maine. Trying to sleep on an overnight bus from New York to Boston. Hitchhiking through the Adirondacks in a series of strangers’ cars. Looking over the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Camping in a grove of pecan trees in Oklahoma, caking insect repellent on my arms to keep off ravenous mosquitos.
It isn’t the road that’s home. I don’t mean it like that. I don’t mean I never want to be settled in one place for an extended period of time. I’m just finding a much deeper joy in being unsettled right now. I suspect I’m growing more by rattling my own compass and testing to see if it comes back to true north. And when I’m done with that, I’ll put down stakes for a while and dig into a solid routine until it’s time to go again. This no longer seems like a crazy way to live for a simple reason: I’ve been doing it for a little while now, and I’m managing to do it in a way that is sustainable.
That’s what I’ve got for now. I might’ve forgotten some folks and I know there are rumbles of other awesome things in the work, but nothing bloggable just yet. Enjoy!!!