Lately I’ve been feeling bad because there are a few contests and fellowships I want to send things to, and I have nothing new. I feel like I haven’t been able to write anything fresh for so long. Just now, I noticed a flash fiction contest that is perfect for my work and I opened the folder on my desktop where I keep all things writing related to see if there was anything in there I might want to use, and there wasn’t. But, do you know what was in there? A novel. All the chapters and versions of chapters and revisions and notes and outlines of a novel I wrote while also working full time and taking a night class in poetry–a class full of whipsmart poets that made me work really hard to keep up. Also in that folder are 5 poetry reviews, 4 of which have been or are being published, and an essay on poetry, language and sex. There’s also an author interview and a bunch of publication contracts from when I was a fiction editor at Hot Metal. How easily I’ve forgotten all the work that position was.
As I scrolled, I started to feel less bad about my lack of writing. Mixed in at the start of the novel files are files for the fellowship I applied to in winter. Uh, I had forgotten all about that. My writing sample, personal statement, itinerary, travel budget. Yeah, that stuff was a lot of work. The folder goes back nearly a year, a year during which I also got a divorce and a promotion. I also took two pottery classes. And I kept a dog alive. And my house is still standing. And, I’m in the best shape I’ve maybe ever been in. If this sounds like bragging, it is because it is. Bragging to myself as a reminder that I have’t been sitting around with my thumb up my ass this past year. I’ve got stuff. I’ve got a folder full of stuff. And my life is good.
Of course, none of this is an excuse to not begin writing new stuff this very moment.