Let It Be What It Needs To Be

Posted on 13 January 2015

It’s a new year, I have a hot cup of green jasmine tea in front of me, and I just had to shut the blinds to keep out the snow glare. It’s also my final semester of the MFA program and my thesis  — a new collection of stories — is coming together. Enter the worry dolls I recently received from an instructor. They might look cheerful right now as they dance around on that gourd, but let’s just say they have their work cut out for them.

The same instructor offered this advice about the thesis: “Let it be what it needs to be.” This is what I’m trying to do as I revise my stories and write new ones. Or as I teach my undergraduate creative writing workshop, or as I read fiction submission after fiction submission for Mid-American Review, or as I continue to contemplate novel revisions. (The novel that is not part of my thesis or MFA work — just a separate book project I’m working on at the same time. Brilliant plan, I know. Bring on those worry dolls.) As always, I’m well aware of my good fortune for being able to direct my attention and anxieties to these writing issues in the first place.

A few quick updates, since I haven’t posted in a while:

  • When I’m not here, you can sometimes find me posting on the Mid-American Review blog. We have a Pets with MAR feature that, unbelievably, I have not yet contributed to. Yet. Saucy and Cirrus will have their day on the MAR blog, I swear.
  • My AWP panel is set for Friday, April 10, from 3-4:15pm.
  • My story “How to Be a Hero” was published recently by Green Mountains Review.
  • Portland Review recently accepted my new flash piece, “No Dog,” which was inspired by Lydia Davis’s “The Dog Hair.” My story will appear in an upcoming print issue.
  • Smokelong Quarterly published my flash piece “A Girl Walks Into a Page.” Artist Amy Trosino created the intricate and, in my opinion, astounding art for this piece. She recently sent me a print, which I intend to hang in my writing room.

None of my recent publications have included the stories that I consider to be the heart of my thesis (or, perhaps, even stories that will end up in the thesis at all). This is how I usually work — I write and incubate and holds things close until they are ready. The collection is not ready yet, but it’s getting there. I can already see a glimmer of its final shape.

Back to work.




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