Earlier this year, I applied for the 2020 Novel Writing Workshop with Kij Johnson and Barbara Webb, and I got in. I got the news that I got in right about the same time Covid-19 was shutting down a lot of normal life in this state. Washington, btw, if you aren’t sure where I live.
We weren’t sure if it was still going to happen, and after a few weeks of watching the news, the instructors decided to not have the workshop this year, and instead pre-approve anyone who made the cut for the classes that will be held in 2021. I’m glad that they made that call, because I lost my job about a week after learning I made the cut, and I wasn’t sure how I’d afford two weeks off and a ticket to Kansas on my new budget.
I wait too long to celebrate good news. But at it’s core, making it into the workshop is good news. I love Kij’s writing, and I’ve heard great things about her as an instructor. And at this point, I am having a very hard time making words stick to the screen. Maybe I need a year before I can write a novel. I haven’t written a new short story in… I can’t remember.
My cousin died a few days ago. Michelle. She was so much cooler than me. When my husband and I traveled through California, we stayed with her and her partner at their then home in the country just outside Petaluma. It was this really rad geodesic dome, where Stephen grew forty kinds of peppers and Michelle kept jars of heirloom veg in the basement, along with a strain of very old yeast from what sounded like a very intensive bread baking class. The bees that pollinated the area were among her 40,000 pets- there were boxes of hives at the end of the driveway. Michelle also kept the apple trees that Stephen planted to a reasonable 4, because she wasn’t going to sell apples at the farmers market if he went and planted an orchard. It was easy to feel at home with them even though we didn’t stay long and that was the first time either of them had met my husband.
About 20 years ago, after Michelle had a double lung transplant, she and Stephen backpacked across Europe. I don’t remember if it was a website that she set up, or just emails that she sent to my mom that I got to read– I was still very new to the internet– but I got to follow her travelogue. She was so impressively adventurous.
I miss her. I can’t possibly put into words how much, but I can’t say nothing either. She was amazing, and I miss her.