Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Yesterday morning I ran into a friend, a woman of great wisdom whose last name I do not know. We see each other on the metro sometimes, and yesterday, as the snow dropped off branches and slid off roofs in great sloppy chunks, she recounted a snowy day two years ago. She had just left her husband, an abusive man, and her youngest son had been diagnosed with a kidney cancer that would bloom into three different cell lines. She stood on the metro platform, despairing of her life, feeling the deep indigo of depression settle in her with an inky sigh, when she noticed the tall ornamental grasses bending under the weight of snow. Each long blade, thinner than a knitting needle, carried a few inches of snow. Occasionally more snow would fall on top, and the blade would bow deeper, the snow would tumble off, and the grass would spring back upright. She told me: God never gives us more than we can take. We bend but when we go as far as we can, God releases our load. I carried this image with me all day.

I am re-writing my third person narrative in first person because Maryam feels so distant to me. I want to bury myself into her, find her essential truth, the nugget of her. She is elusive, this character, and I think it is because she is too much like myself.

For class, we are reading The English Patient. A lyrical masterpiece. If I could manage one page of Ondaatje's genius, I will die a happy writer.

I have a sabbatical coming this summer. Six months to think. To experience. To read. To ponder. I am focusing on pain and opioid medications and the thin balance between medical use and abuse. An issue I have considered for almost twenty years, starting with my dissertation. It seems forever until July 1, yet I know it will be here in a blink, and the 6 months past sooner than that.

Time is the enemy these days. If you think about it. Which I try not to.

The Spring issue of JMWW is out. I am very proud of the three pieces of fiction, gorgeous words rendered by Tara Laskowski, Nate Pritts, and Emily Kiernan. As a writer, I always feel thrilled and humbled to see my word in their home. As an editor, I feel like a midwife of sorts. Please, read--you will be moved.



  1. I'm a big fan of first person narratives.

  2. I am with Mark. First person narrative is MUCH more likely to cause me to willingly suspend my disbelief. Reality? Perhaps.

    I love the image of the ornamental grasses being able to duck out from under the snow. And yes, it is one of my philosophies that I do not get more than I can manage - but I would prefer not to be tested quite so hard.

    Have a wonderful Easter weekend.

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