I spent last week at the Sirenland writer’s conference in Positano, Italy. (Luckiest grrrl.) There, I workshopped my story, “Deforestation and Other Side Effects,” with the ever-magnanimous and talented and amazing, Anthony Doerr and 9 other fabulous workshop-attendees—writers of great caliber and breadth. Therefore, I am still picking away at this story’s prickly edges, and...it is very very close to being done! After today, it will be spit-shined and thorn-free (not really, I love the thorns) and ready to be affixed with a shiny red bow.
Here’s an excerpt:*
There are spiderwebs stuck in my tear ducts—sticky and gloppy, blackened with kohl. The tops of my ears have a fine layer of moss etched across them, it makes them look animal or infantile or anorexic. My microsystem is seeking something outside that it can’t find inside anymore. I feel like a failure; I couldn’t even keep my Secret Garden secret or gardeny.
I. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. This book is fun. It is collection of weird, monstrous stories by weird, monstrous writers. So far in my reading, I’ve encountered stormy kraken, a vampire boy that feeds on memory, a very badass teenage-girl-intergalactic-smuggler, boyfriends that come in boxes, and a couple of girls that let themselves get swallowed up by black magick’s eerie promises. Bedtime stories, woohoo!
II. The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm. It feels important for me to always be reading at least one book of non-fiction. Because I have recently been re-reading all of Sylvia Plath's poetry (see #tiniestbookreview on Instagram) and am planning a Plath-inspired tattoo (replete with bees, tulips, bricks, tears, poppies, locks of hair, seashells, etc.) I picked up this book as an adjunct to my poetry-reading. Most people (who haven’t even read Plath’s poetry) know that the poetess killed herself after a stormy, affair-ridden breakup with her hubby (the poet, Ted Hughes). After her suicide, Sylvia became this weird amalgam of betrayed-woman/feminist icon, growing in power/stature so much more in the afterlife than she could have ever hoped for while alive.
When I was fourteen, one of my pen-pal girlfriends (that I had met in an AOL “punk rock riot grrrl” chat room) sent me a handwritten copy of Plath’s “Lady Lazarus.” It hit me so hard that my guts were roiling for days. This was the first poem that I fully memorized, and Plath’s work became a huge influence on my own poetic warblings. Twenty years later, I'm still fascinated by her poetic prowess, but as an adult (poetess), I'm also interested in the poet as a woman (and a mother and a wife and a daughter and a sister-in-law).
I plan on someday immersing myself into a PhD program where I can braid together my love for literature and psychology. The working title to my dissertation is “Head in the Oven, Pocket Full of Rocks: The Woman Writer and her Ever-Evolving Relationship with Madness.”
Paris, France. In all it's filthy, snobbish, croissant-eating, voulez-vous, fruit market, bad coffee, cobblestoned, carnivalesque glory. I was only there for one week. And one week was not nearly enough.
I want to write inside of you.
Let's make that happen soon.