August 11, 2016

"I Am Still Here" in Hippocampus Magazine

Taking a break from my plant-focused summer to point you all to a recent publication of mine in Hippocampus Magazine. It's a very short essay, called "I Am Still Here," which focuses on my immediate reaction twenty-some years ago to the abduction of a neighborhood boy. As one would assume, the events surrounding his kidnapping haunted me as a young girl, and still do. For me, writing is generally a matter of trying to figure something out. This boy's case has now gone unresolved for decades. I doubt I will ever stop writing into the center of that night, not at least until some closure is reached.

So: there's that. Not flowers or bouncing summer grasses. But one of my earliest memories of understanding the necessity of story, and how upturned and unstable things can feel without one.



Also, as a result of this essay, a young woman from a college in Massachusetts read it, and asked for a short interview for one of her classes about publishing. I'm including my responses here because I find these kinds of insights from other writers interesting, and because the happy truth is, friends, though I have not been here on LOCW much, I have been writing more consistently this last cycle of seasons than I have in years. And that means, yes, I can take questions like these and answer them and not feel like a fraud (at least most days).    :)

  1. How much of your time do you spend writing?  This would have been much more difficult to answer before I had a child. Now that I do, while teaching a full course load, I have to schedule in time to write. I give myself permission to write for three straight hours one morning every week (for which I wake up extra early). I tend to set these hours aside for new writing. I fit in revision in the creaks and cracks of my days. This set-up would have seemed paltry and pathetic at an earlier part of my life, but now it is the only way I get creative work done, and because of that, I cherish those hours, and I get right down to business. 
  2. When you were submitting to literary journals/magazines, did you have anyone edit your work before you submitted it? I've received feedback on early drafts from teachers and mentors, but I've never worked specifically with one editor before I've mailed work off. In the past year, though, a colleague and I have established a monthly swap where we each send each other new work and give the other one feedback. This has proved invaluable; she always has excellent recommendations of where I can strengthen and pare. 
  3. How do you deal with rejection? I try not to think about it too much. When a rejection comes in, I sigh and doubt, but I've learned there really is no better next move than pressing delete on the notice and diving back into something creative. I'm never going to entertain or intrigue or move everyone. The important thing is that I continue to enjoy the process of writing. If I'm doing that, my work will find an audience eventually.
  4. How do you measure success as a writer? To me, the fact that I'm still writing new work and publishing it while working full-time and parenting a small child is success. The sane thing would be to quit and take up cooking. But, no. Writing is an integral part of my identity. Those three hours a week refresh me, and keep my sights set on what is possible.

How about you, dear friends? What have you been working on this summer? When can I read about it?

2 comments:

  1. I just read your essay. It's powerful in the sort of way that this could have been any of us sitting on the bus. You've personalized this crime that has become among the best-known in our state. I am sorry you had to experience this. Like you, I continue to hope for resolution.


    Keep writing. You hold an incredible gift.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind words, Audrey. This boy's abduction is something that affected just about everyone in Minnesota, I believe. And I will keep writing, mostly because it is the way I've learned to make sense of things -- especially the things that make the least sense of all.

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