Turning & Returning

It’s been more than a year since my last post, and now we are deep into Autumn, the landscape having changed from greens to golds to mud brown, the temperature steadily dropping. The outdoor cats are coming in and seeking out laps and baseboard heaters.  I think of November as a turning month–the hinge between glorious fall and the long, grey Pennsylvania winter.

This is also a moment of returning my attention to this memoir project, of re-dedicating myself and prioritizing it above all other writing.

This means I am putting poetry on pause for a while. Both manuscripts are out at contests, but I doubt I will make the full circuit this year. The expense and the slim chances of ever having one accepted feels overly daunting right now, and the whole process can and has taken up far too much of my mental and emotional energy. I’m not saying goodbye to writing it, and I’m not saying I won’t pursue publication at some point, but I need a breather.

It also feels very much like the universe is telling me, indeed, screaming at me to stay with nonfiction. This past year saw several publications, including the essay that began this project,  and a piece that shares its title with this blog, and which tries to sort out the various challenges I’ve encountered in the writing.  And those essays were both honored with nominations for two “best of” anthologies, Dzanc and Sundress. Affirmation feels good.

Over the summer, I wrote a ton, finishing several chapters/essays that I had begun and then abandoned, plus creating what I think is the narrative through line for the book.

Anyone who has been paying attention to this process (or who may have read the most recent entries from June, 2009) will know that I have struggled with the idea of a through-line mightily. But ultimately I’ve realized that I need one and that I do have one: my father’s last year of life. So this is what I’m trying to push through now, and it is painful and difficult but also very good. (In terms of working through the material, not necessarily in terms of quality, though I hope so. You’ll let me know about that eventually!)

I don’t know what I intend for this space exactly. I know myself well enough not to promise regular updates, though that is what I would like and what I think would be most helpful for me.  It also feels a little weird to expect regular readers here when the posts might well read like writing journal entries more than anything else.

Who am I writing for? You? Me? I guess the answer is, and always has been, both. So I’ll try this and see how it works out. I think I’m in a good position to finish a draft of this, finally, soon. By summer? Earlier?

It would be great if you’d stop by to keep me honest. Everyone performs better for an audience, right?

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