Friends, I have an essay up on Lit Hub about reading, writing, and my mother. This is the first nonfiction I’ve had published, and the first real writing I’ve done about my mother, though my feelings about her fill my fiction every day.
“What they don’t tell you about death—or what you don’t really understand until it happens close to you—is how permanent it is. In the months afterward I kept thinking to myself, all right, I get it. This is too painful. Let’s just take a little break from the loss. Let’s have a weekend off. A day. Or an hour. Just one hour when it’s not true, when she is allowed to speak to me, or to rub an absent-minded hand through my hair. But the wall is high and fissureless. There are no breaks, no time-outs. The loss is final, and the you that you were with her is nowhere, gone.”
Read the whole essay here.
I’m pleased to be able to share my story “The Stories You Tell”, which was originally published in Washington Square this past summer. The story is now available for online reading: you can read it here. Here’s a sample:
Getting to know you: write about what brought you here and anything we should know about you. 500 words.
When I was thirty, my mother started going to meetings again because it had gotten bad lately. Worse than I’d ever seen. I came home again to Boston, broke and stuck and unsure of my trajectory, and I fell desperately in love with this girl, who I met in AA. I wasn’t in AA, but my mother was. I started taking the train up the North Shore to see my mother and she introduced us. I’d just moved from New York and messed up plenty while I was there, but I was still in possession of my arms and legs and more or less my faculties.
I was living in a studio in Somerville, teaching night classes at the local community college. The 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. slot for introductory writing can turn your life into something you hardly recognize. I drank coffee at hours that you shouldn’t and had a sour ache in my stomach that wouldn’t go away until it was time to drink more. I climbed into bed by about 3 a.m. and the shadows of cars passing on the walls became hideous monsters from my childhood, the ones that used to grab my ankles from under the bed, the ones that could slip under the crack of the door, that had skittering hands and too many fingers like daddy long legs. In my 3 a.m. daze, the monsters I knew, the ones I was so familiar with, scuttled over my body and grabbed me up in their arms. At first they were gentle, cradling me. Then they swallowed me whole.
It’s been a great year and I’m excited to report some new publications. You can read a piece of flash fiction of mine, “Hoops”, at Pacifica Review; that piece will also be appearing in Pacifica’s print journal. “The Stories You Tell” appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Washington Square. And new stories will be forthcoming in West Branch, Fugue, and The Worcester Review.
Readers, I’m excited to announce that a short story of mine, “Grimalkins”, is now available for download in Amazon’s online literary magazine, Day One. The story can be read on any Kindle or any Kindle app for iPhone or Android.
I worked hard on this story, which is loosely inspired by my stay at an artists’ colony and the very interesting characters one meets there. Somehow the story ended up being about motherhood and the gulf that exists between young and older artists as well.
Please support this writer by buying an issue or subscribing — there are some really excellent poems and stories to be read in the issues. Here’s the link:
Amazon: Day One
I’m so pleased to say a couple of new short fiction pieces by me have appeared online. The flash fiction piece “Bats” is available to read at Lumina, and another short piece, “Decide”, is up at a literature blog I love, The Toast. Have you checked these guys out yet? I’d love to have more readers, and I’m proud to be among some wonderful pieces of fiction there.
I’m happy to report a new story of mine, about the difficulty of writing stories, is up at Bluestem Magazine. What’s more, you can enjoy the story in typical text form, or you can listen to me reading it aloud. Check out the site and spread the word!
I’m delighted to report that a story I wrote nearly four years ago, “Enjoy Our Fair City”, has found a home at the literary magazine Nerve Cowboy. I found out about Nerve Cowboy through my usual flipping through databases of magazines, but thought there was something especially charming about this journal; it’s edgy, fun, and full of attitude. I’m honored to have my story published in the journal; be sure to check it out!
I’m excited to see a short-short excerpt from my novel appearing in the online journal, A Bad Penny Review! These short fables or modernized tales appear in between the chapters of my novel, and I thought I could put them together into their own story.
Big news, readers. I’m excited (but also a little apprehensive) to report that this week I wrote the last few scenes of my novel this week. It doesn’t mean I’m done — in fact, far from it. I can already think of a few scenes that I know are missing, and there are several places where I’ve simply written MORE HERE to remind myself that more is needed.
But still, there’s something momentous about putting that final image, the one you’ve been barreling and sometimes crawling toward, for more than a year. When I wrote the last lines, I sat back and waited for something enormous to happen — for it to feel like all the pieces had now magically shifted into place and now the piece was perfect. Of course, my first feeling was one of disappointment — when I thought about the piece, I realized all the old weaknesses and failings of my writing had crept in. There remained much too much wrong with it.
After I got over that initial realization, my impulse was to leap right back into the fray, to start picking and prodding and teasing and pulling. I wanted to start right away, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to GIVE IT TIME. If you’re finishing a long project, you’ve been walking through the forest for a long time. It’s like being underwater, or sitting in a darkened movie theater. You’ve lost all sense of perspective; you’ve fallen under the spell of your own writing, and you’re no longer able to judge what works and what doesn’t.