Auld Friends


Funny how the new year brings out old connections.  I heard from two old friends as 2008 dawned, both writers, Bill Lychack, and Chris Motto.  I got to hear about the latest short story collection Bill is putting together and all the worries that entails (is it too cohesive?  not cohesive enough? personally, as a reader, I prefer the heterogenous collection), and that we can all look forward to a new story in the next Ploughshares.  If you haven’t read his 2004 debut novel, The Wasp Eater, then, if you read this blog you can predict the exhortation to follow:  get thee to a bookstore or a library (I know ours has a copy) post haste!  You won’t regret it.  It debuted to widespread acclaim for good reason.  It’s a damn near perfect book.

Bill and his wife, Betty, have also entered the parenting fray in a big way, with a three year old boy and baby twins.  The idea of twins (actually, just the idea of more than two children, which is what I have) has always struck a certain awe in me.  But I’m sure the abundance more than compensates for any scarcity of say, sleep.

Chris has sent me two essays she’s been working on, a personal essay on teaching the personal essay and one about her own particular entre into parenting.  I’m especially looking forward to the rest of what she has to write about the latter–she has a lot to say that hasn’t been said yet.

There is always a certain amount of gratitude involved with reconnecting with important people in one’s life, confirming the idea that our journey really is a continuum and not a lurching series of staccato leaps.  Bill reminded me that we’ve been at this writing thing twenty years (we started out in Blanche Boyd’s fiction class at Connecticut College); with Chris it goes back almost as long, to the George Mason MFA program.  Reminds me of that workplace question they ask you on (yes, I was sucked into that once):  Are you doing what you thought be doing?  Pretty much, is my answer, and feeling pretty lucky to be doing it too.

The new AWP Chronicle arrived yesterday, and as I read through it I thought it’d give me some ideas to write here.  But it didn’t.  Some intriguing articles about writing couples, including Beth Spires and Madison Smartt Bell, which piqued my interest, since I’m part of a writing couple myself.  It was comforting to see that they don’t share drafts until late in the game either.  I try to get pretty far along before I show something to my husband; he’s so prolific I sometimes don’t even see a story till he’s published it (as in, “What, I didn’t show you that?  I thought I did?”). 

In terms of my own writing, I’m not making any new resolutions this year, just trying to stick to the old ones.  Stay focused on a few projects, the novel, the creative writing in higher ed book, sending stuff out, especially the essays.  Allow a few projects on deck in research mode but don’t let myself be tempted by what Heather Sellers calls the “sexy new books,”that are always giving me that come hither look.  Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to stick to it.

And the blog of course.  In preparation for my upcoming discussion of Leonard Marcus’ new book on the Golden Legacy, I”ll be surveying everyone soon for their favorite Little Golden Book, with an eye toward dishing some inside scoop about its creation.  So be thinking about it.  Are you the “Monster at the End of this Book?” type, or the “Pokey Little Puppy,” type or both?

Remember, any posts between January 4 and February 4 will qualify you for the next Wordamour drawing.

Bye, y’all.

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