Finally heeding advice

So far it’s pretty liberating to write a blog no one reads. I still avoid certain topics — things that are too personal to my family to be shared or that are too prurient in the event my children eventually do read this and say, “Ew, Mom, gross.”

But yesterday I started a writing project that excites me — quite literally, actually. I picked up a story I started in grad school that was published in PANK a few years ago. This story had more life than I’d allowed it at the time, and I’d played with continuing the story a few times, although I have currently lost many of the pages I’d written. Which is okay, because I was stuck anyway and I remember the two or three core lines that defined it for me.

So to start over, I’ve taken the advice of a former MFA advisor, David Jauss. I am rewriting the story completely. Not copying and pasting and continuing on, but retyping each word. And just as he promised, the story is changing as I type. A word here, a description there, a nuance in phrasing that will become important because I know where this story is headed now in a way I didn’t the first time I wrote it. I’m cutting parts and elaborating on other scenes. I wish I’d taken Dave’s advice sooner, but when I had a job that wasn’t writing I convinced myself I didn’t have the time for that type of revision. Now that this is my job, I hope to develop the same “trenchant work ethic” that another advisor had used to describe my friend Rich Farrell‘s approach to the work of writing.

On a related note, I had thought that PANK closed based on a notice I’d seen from the founding editors, M. Bartley Seigel and Roxane Gay, a year or so ago, but it turns out a new wave of editors picked up the flaming PANK torch and carried on. I am selfishly grateful — the story they published was one of my favorite stories published so far. And I am unselfishly grateful — it’s a great magazine that has earned an active voice in the world.




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