Don’t Despair

In his excellent book How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee at one point compares writing to being sequestered in jail by your own story: “You in a small dark room with no answers to any of your questions, and no one seems to hear your pleas, not for days, months, years. Indifferent the entire time to all requests for visits or freedom. Hard labor too.”

Or, as my student Christola puts it: “I’m writing at writing.”
Continue reading “Don’t Despair”

Keep Going

Shortly after Thanksgiving, a friend of mine confessed he’s abandoned a project he’d been working on intensely through the summer and fall. This tumultuous year has been especially wearying for some of us, my friend included.

“I’ll pick it back up in January,” he said.

Each year, once the December holidays begin, this is a common refrain: We have too many end-of-year deadlines to meet, parties to attend, or gifts to buy, on top of the usual demands of modern life. “I’ll start up again next year,” we say. Continue reading “Keep Going”


Recently, my phone suggested that I “create memories” of 2020 by sifting through my photos, and helpfully, it offered up the first one of the year.

It was taken at a funeral.

My first thought was, “Sheesh, phone, read the room. 2020!”

Fifteen minutes later, though, I was thinking, “On the day of that funeral, Covid19 was arriving in California from China and in NYC from Europe. We were dimly aware a new virus had been identified, but did not yet understand that the seeds of the pandemic were floating down around us and taking root.” My next thought was, “If this was in a story, that funeral scene would make great foreshadowing.”

Continue reading “Foreshadow”