This past Christmas, I recycled over ten years’ worth of printouts, notes, and drafts of my book There Are No Solid Gold Dancers Anymore, which had formed an unsteady, waist-high column in the closet. I kept only the oldest version of the thing, when it was called, Fortune-Telling Hazards, a title I loved until I revealed it to an acquaintance who proceeded to not only rearrange the grammar but kill any beauty it had had in my head. There’s something to be said for the adage, Never tell anyone anything.
After I dropped all that marked-up, stained paper into the blue bin, I started thinking about the past two years since TANSGDA’s publication. I have had to push through a strange, grey haze of loneliness for that old thing (and the old life it represented) while fighting my fear over how the poems sound out loud in the heads of others. I have also struggled, as most writers do, with this identity called, “the writer,” with identifying too much with the thing I had written, of letting it define my life and what it means. I’m still kind of working through all that. And I suppose that’s some kind of progress.
There have been other steps forward as I try to find myself beyond TANSGDA. My flash fiction piece, “One Saturday in 1988,” made the MASH shortlist last July and was beautifully narrated by voice actor Elisa Berkeley. And just this past week, my work, along with the work of my fab friend, Mary Crosbie, was published in Issue 6 of the online magazine, Body Parts; read “The Blue Boy” and “Life Saver” (Mary is a freaking awesome writer, comedian, and all-round performer; check out more of her work here).
There remains a big pile of paper in the closet – a pile of old stories, half-baked ideas, and odd snippets I cannot yet part with; perhaps there is a story there I can salvage, make something of. I know this is unlikely. But one step at a time.