A Community of Writers

My writing is a primarily solitary affair. I do my best work when the phone is out of earshot, when the door is closed, when I’ve created time where nothing else requires my attention. I say no to the dirty dishes in the sink, no to Facebook, no to the long decadent shower before heading off to the day job. I clock in on an Excel spreadsheet to hold myself accountable, and then I force myself to stay in the chair until the allotted time is finished. There is always quite a bit of fidgeting in that chair.

It’s a pleasure when I can emerge from behind the closed door into the community as a writer. My critique group, a small group of three, has been meeting regularly since 2008. They are family: they see my early drafts and work to make them better with care and constructive feedback. Then they repeat the process again and again, drafts two and three and four, and the next story and the next and the next.

Author readings are a delight; it’s far too rare to watch the written word affect listeners. Book readings give this activity space and time and light and air.

Writers’ Conferences are enough to make my brain explode from overstimulation. It’s an all-too-short day or two or three of meeting writers, learning from presentations, being inspired by speeches, and sharing my own stories.

At the Willamette Writers Conference a few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Maureen Kay, a writer in Portland. She is another author in the trenches, working steadily to craft stories that illuminate our world. On her website, she has highlighted some of the other authors in our community that are also working hard, day in and day out. She was kind enough to include me in the list. Take a peek!


Food for thought

Death: none of us can escape it.  We’re born; we die.  Or, as people in my family have said, “None of us are getting out of this alive.”

In my flash fiction story “Dr. Temple’s Eternal Cure,” I play with the idea of choosing the timing of when we’ll die. This question was explored in The New York Times Magazine this month in their piece “The Last Day of Her Life.”  The essay is about Sandy Bem, a professor of psychology at Cornell, who was diagnosed with a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.  She decided to “figure out a way to take her own life before the disease took it from her.”

My story is fiction; Sandy Bem’s story is true.  But the question winds through both: should we be able to control our own death?