I got a John Steinbeck scented candle this week and it is amazing writers #writing #candles #smokedbirch
Hello, readers. It’s official: I’ve moved to Canada for a writing teaching position, and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the culture and literary scene here. The timing is downright odd, I know, and I’ll be writing about my experiences here as well as my thoughts on what it means to be leaving the States at this particular time. You can see some of my first posts on my Medium blog here:
And here’s an excerpt of my first post:
Hello, Canada! I’m new to you! The timing might seem suspect, an American arriving in Canada just now, after a crazy 2016 and a maddening election season. It’s so suspect, in fact, that I’ve gotten used to shrugging and smiling when people joke about my fleeing the country. But I’m here because my fiancé and I got teaching jobs at a university. This was in the works for nearly a year. So while I watched the election results with the same obsessiveness as all my friends, and bit my nails and watched too much MSNBC, there was always this knowledge in the back of my mind…that I’d be leaving soon. Either I’d be looking proudly on from afar as our first female president set up shop, or, well…I’d be high-tailing it out of there.
I knew I wanted to observe everything that was new to me in Canada as soon as I got here. My job as a newcomer, I think, is to look with big eyes and listen with big ears. To notice the differences and the similarities. And as a writer, my job is to observe and form theories about the national character. To see the contradictions and learn the jokes. To put my foot in it a few times and learn how to step gracefully out again. So this post will be the first of many scattered thoughts and observations about what might become my new home.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on the writing life from North of the Border, and also come back for some exciting new progress on the novel. More soon.
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.”
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:
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!