Because there is unanimous consensus out there in the writing world that the only antidote for the waiting game surrounding all things publishing is writing and more writing, I am slowly but surely beginning another book. I have a loose sense of the story arc, and of three of the main characters, and some unformed “scenes” bouncing around in my head. I am planning on trying to be more of a “plotter” rather than a “pantser” this go-around, but we’ll see if I can pull that off. Back in August I downloaded Scrivener onto my laptop with some birthday money, so maybe that will help with the “plotter” end of things. I always start a book with a sense of where I want it to go — the book in its entirety hovers in my head, all shadowy and unformed, and it’s always so gratifying to watch it take on shape as I write. But I know there are parts of my craft that could use some work, and one of these areas is to be more deliberate about how I plan out the novel at the start, rather than just plunging in.

I’d also like to take more risks.

When I was in graduate school for my MA in creative writing, the wise poet Ruth Stone** told me after a workshop one day not to be afraid to let the edges show in my writing. I think she meant that everything doesn’t have to be neatly wrapped up; that a dose of the raw, and a glimpse of the ragged edges of life, of experience, and people, can be powerful things in writing. I have tried to take her words to heart, because I know that I like the ends to connect in my own life.

So as I prepare to immerse myself in another writing project, I am giving myself pep talks: take risks, expose rawness, be fearless.

** I’ve been thinking a lot about Ruth lately, I think probably because she really made me see myself as a writer, when I was a much younger, more insecure, more tentative, version of myself. I so admired her — her tenacity, her refusal to let the darker parts of life get hold of her or, if they did, her ability to confront them and spin them into words. This poem has always been one of my favorites:

Another Feeling


Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
Without thinking,
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.