I know everyone is talking about spring and how it’s sprung, but really, can you blame me for continuing to marvel at this shit?
This time of year in Washington always makes me miss Japan, because the cherry trees here are STUNNING but there just aren’t ENOUGH OF THEM. GIVE ME MORE BLOOOOSSSSSSOOOOMMMMMS.
Honestly, I’d live in this tree if I could make myself as small as a Borrower.
But what we lack in cherry tree abundance, we make up for in daffodil and tulip prosperity – the fields are full of them in spring, first the daffodils, highlighting great swaths of Skagit valley in bright yellow, and then the tulips, striping the landscape in a variety of pinks and purples and oranges. It’s not Japan, but it is beautiful.
Anyway, I digress. The point of this newsletter was supposed to be that trite old chestnut about how spring reminds us that there’s life hibernating in even the deadest-seeming plants. And how that applies to us too, our energy and our hopes and dreams and (for creatives, at least) our work. It’s a cliché for a reason – how can you not think about renewal and rebirth when it’s all around us like this?
I’m at a stage with this book I’ve been working on for seven years where I frequently feel like giving up and shelving it. I’ve started a novel, and even if it’s terrible (not saying it is, just that it’s too fetal to tell) it’s something new. Something removed from my own story – all the fun with none of the trauma. I’ve been toying with switching loyalties.
But then I went away to a cabin in the woods for two nights at the end of March, and while I was there I had the Word app on my phone dictate my whole (memoir) manuscript to me in the name of revision, and I loved it. I mean, I loved it the way you love a book you didn’t write, a book you stumbled upon based on a Tweet and found yourself desperately reading in the middle of the night, your heart half-broken by the knowledge that it will, eventually, end. I could barely find anything to revise.
So here I am, with my love for my memoir still wick, despite a long, frigid winter of discontent. I’ve heavily revised the proposal (AGAIN – kill me) and set about pressing on through these hideous agent-query trenches, and even though I know the odds are against me I can’t help but hope. There’s life in the old gal yet.
Technically this is from last month, but after the torrents of March, April has been pretty dry, and anyway I wanted to share with you all that my first-ever humor piece was published by Slackjaw! It’s about my tendency toward authority-sluttery and my grudging respect for professional boundaries. You can read it here.
What I’m Reading:
It was almost an accident, the way I stumbled across the memoir Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, about the (anonymous) writer’s own stumbling into becoming an internet sensation and the world of joy and human connection (and Lyle Lovett) that experience opened up for her – I’m listening to the audiobook and enjoying it immensely. On my Kindle, I’m devouring the wonderful, much-talked-about romcom Beach Read, by Emily Henry – recommended to me by, among others, my own favorite Emily, who is never wrong about these things. I also want to shout out the truly brilliant novel I finished as the month turned over, Detransition, Baby, by Torrey Peters – another book I kept reading long past the point of lights out, much to Scott’s frustration.
A Random Joy:
At the end of last year, a course proposal I’d sent to the local community college continuing education department was accepted and I was signed up to teach six two-hour evening classes in April. Little did I know that I’d have just started a new full-time job with a steep learning curve, but despite my exhaustion I am so happy to be teaching Write & Publish Your Memoir to six thoughtful, talented students every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Their questions have challenged my thought process and validated my experience and their writing has been a joy to read (or hear, as is often the case, since we meet over Zoom). My cup runneth over.
And, as a bonus, these dark green velvet chairs I bought (so that I could use one as a desk chair in my new home office) make a truly stunning backdrop for our beautiful boy, Bismarck, who’s claimed this one as his own.
P.S. If you’re following the Substack controversy and wondering why I’m still here, it’s NOT because I don’t care or am unaware. I am looking into all my options, paid and free, and trying to weigh the loss of a platform I really like against the harm their both-sides-ing does to a community I care about very much – this is complicated by the split opinions of other people I respect. Anyway, I’m aware and I’m thinking about it.