I am pleased to announce that my short story “Mold” will be appearing in a forthcoming anthology! Survivor, edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke, will be released by Lethe Press in late February 2018. A pre-order link is forthcoming.
A big thanks to Alison McMahon, Karl Dandenell, Jocelyn Kirby, and others for their insightful input during the development of this story. It took a long journey from first draft to publication, but now the public will get a chance to read it.
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Sunday afternoon I turned on The Dark Crystal for my annual re-watch, a New Year’s tradition of mine. As I was sorting through old mail and generally cleaning house, something odd happened:
I turned it off midway through.
My feelings about this beautiful, imaginative film have evolved over the past few years. I was deeply invested in this film not too long ago. Yet after my disillusionment with the Henson Company’s prequel writing contest in 2013, I started taking a more critical look at it.
I typically don’t do this to movies. Books, including both prose and graphic novels, I can engage in with some distance, which allows me to tease apart a story more easily. Yet movies have always been visceral, and I’m usually too emotionally involved with the visuals to properly engage them.
But The Dark Crystal meant a lot to me, and I had to figure out why. The writer in me had to know whether it was the storytelling or the production design that drew me to it.
On my hard drive sits a novel-length manuscript. I wrote the rough draft about four years ago, and subsequently revised, polished, rewrote half of it from scratch, revised and polished yet again, and let it sit while I decided where to take it.
This novel had some similarities to a very popular show on a global video streaming site. I thought I could use that show as a comparable, or comp for short. (Comps are used in pitches to editors and agents: they demonstrate that a story is enough like a successful work that it can be sold.) I would need to differentiate my work from this show, since there were some uncanny similarities, but that could be done through incremental revisions.
However, a new season of this famous show just dropped.
I recently re-read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, an otherwise excellent book on pursuing Buddhist practice, when I came across a curious statement. To paraphrase, Chodron considers theism an addiction, a desire for “a babysitter” to come in and fix things.
There’s been a persistent numbness lately, as if a circuit board in my brain was shorted in a power surge and lies dead and smoldering. So, so many things have happened — are happening — are about to happen — that they cannot be processed. Like logs down a river, my feelings have caught on the banks and jammed.
After my post about Harvey, we Floridians, as well as those in the Caribbean islands, had to deal with Irma. I evacuated with a friend to Tallahassee for several days to wait out the storm, worried about family and friends who stayed behind. After two weeks of gas shortages, empty grocery stores, and awful traffic, I made it home, my apartment just as I had left it.
And then there was a family crisis.
And then we had to worry about Maria, on the heels of Irma and Jose.
And now TrumpCare is back.
I feel beyond tired. All I want to do is sleep for a week. I know that it’s compassion fatigue, that it’s probably lingering sleep deprivation, that it could be a depressive episode. 2017 hasn’t been a cake walk by any stretch, but it feels like this past month has been the worst. And there are three months left this year.
I need to stay focused. I need to be there for my family, for work, for my writer friends and for my church community. I need to be here for someone I’ve just begun to know. My stories still need me to write them.
My heart aches for Houston. The arrival of hurricane Harvey over the weekend has dumped trillions of gallons of water onto the city and much of the gulf coast of Texas, turning highways into rivers.
I’ve lived through a hurricane. I was seven when Andrew swept through Florida. My family evacuated to a motel in Fort Myers, thankfully on the other coast of the peninsula, away from the hard-hit Miami area. I was recovering from surgery. As I tried to peel off my bandages, I watched as streetlights and palm trees swayed and bent in the wind and rain. Continue reading Weathering the Storm: Environmentalism, Harvey, and Climate Change→