Very anxious about my health. Something in the new family room (the new leather sofa? the new carpet? sorting and dusting and reshelving hundreds of books?) is giving me hives and I don't know how to ascertain what it is.
I did an interview for SWEET: A LITERARY CONFECTION that will be coming out soon and mentioned that it was a big advance to come out as bipolar. A former student has just got rid of his new twitter page and started a newer one, leaving out an essay where he came out as bisexual. Coming out seems so easy for some, so hard for others of us.
Just read today in a long blog entry of aphorisms about writing by
Alina Stefanescu: "There’s something feeble about writing mental health challenges in a way that defines a character. Mental health can only describe us, not define us. Only for a moment and among a cornucopia of other traits and embodiments." And while I know that's true, being bipolar seems more fundamental, somehow, than having brown hair, or hives for that matter.
Nonfiction coming out in a few weeks in LITTLE FICTION/BIG TRUTHS about the motorcycle trip and the breakup with Hartmut, and in F(R)ICTION about my aunt's suicide. Both more than thirty years ago. It seems to take a very long time before I can write about something painful.
I feel like my writing proceeds at a snail's pace this summer. I've been chipping away at a flash on lobotomies for THE LUNATICS' BALL, reading the very painful histories of Naomi Ginsberg, Rose Williams, Rosemary Kennedy, devising fictional voices to intertwine with facts. This from Alina Stefanescu's blog strikes me too: "As writers, we can't speak for others if this involves replacing or erasing their voice. We can, however, speak with others and in dialogue with ourselves and social institutions--we can show support or affinity by honoring the distance between the witnessing voice and the embodied one." Hard to know where I'm usurping voices and where I'm amplifying voices, especially when I fictionalize in this project.
An expressionist artist I recently discovered, who did portraits of madwomen in the late teens and twenties. Chaim Soutine, The Mad Woman (1919).
LITTLE FICTION/BIG TRUTHS just announced an August 7 pub date for their special Flash Nonfiction issue. Really excited to see the amazing roster of writers. Can't wait to read their work.
I’ve always loved CONNOTATION PRESS, fiction editor Jonathan Cardew’s wild and audacious fiction, and the great writers they publish, so I was especially pleased to make it into their last issue before they close for a long hiatus to redesign the magazine. Very excited to see that the other three fiction writers in this issue are writers whose work I’ve long known and admired: Len Kuntz, Claire Polders (I'm in the online writers group QUILLS with her), and Andrew Stancek.
"Prayer to St. Dymphna" is one of the LUNATICS' BALL fictions. I'm feeling stalled by my operation last Thursday and anxiety leading up to it (a parathyroid gland and tumor removed at UCSF Mt. Zion Hospital), by the continuing uproar created by the family room renovations (painting done, window today, carpet Wednesday, lots accomplished really but the entire house is a mess, with stacks of books everywhere). But really the project is moving along, and I've placed nonfiction in THE COLLAGIST, F(R)ICTION, and PASSAGES NORTH. Lots still to write.
Jonathan asked us about beginnings and endings and included our responses in his preface. All I could think about was saints. I have to write another craft essay, on plot, for CRAFT literary journal, and I'm not feeling very inspired. It will be short and I've got a couple of months.