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.


it is a strange time

difficult and sad


i planted green beans

but they have not grown.


i painted a picture

but it did not look the way i wanted it to.


We are apart for our safety. It won’t last forever, but the feelings we are collecting now will last for a lifetime. This is an historical moment. I’m watching cartoons and learning to make rice cakes.



It’s been some time. I have been absent, but not inactive.

(When I do not create in specific ways, I think I have stopped moving. It is untrue. There are many ways to move.)

I am used to dwelling on my metaphysical self. The one that makes art. And over the last year, I haven’t done much art. But I have worked more on my physical self. The body I’d largely tried to ignore for uh… thirty four years now?

I had a series of bad falls and back spasms that are maybe linked to a car accident? Maybe a part of an injury on the job? It’s true diagnosis remained elusive, and I keep muscle relaxers on hand to treat the symptoms when they’re really bad. But I have found that steady use of my stationary bicycle helps more than anything to set those near-to-spasming muscles in my lower back back to order. It, combined with some strength training, has helped me feel like I have more control of my physical self.

I don’t know if I’ve lost weight. I don’t own a scale. It feels irrelevent. I know that I am stronger now than I was last year. And when my back has started to tweak, I have been able to fix it before it spasmed and set me crawling around my house again.

I am hoping soon that I’ll learn to manage both my physical self and my meta self. I’ll try not to beat myself up about the art until I do.


In This Fight

I think of myself as a solitary person. I have a husband and a cat and a couple of close friends, but I am also prone to long stretches of not speaking to anyone, or wandering off from parties to avoid conversation.

I may require solitude, but I need community as well. And when I am in my low periods, I talk myself out of the communities that I love. I don’t post a joke on your page, because I have considered how to craft it a few different ways and none of them really say “I’m still here and I love you.” I don’t write that review for a book, because I worry that I’m praising the wrong things, and that I’ll find some way to offend you. I am afraid of talking, so I don’t, because solitude is comfortable until it is a cage.

Obviously these are foolish worries. That doesn’t stop them from happening.

I am trying to call myself out for these behaviors. I have had help. My writing group, who meets monthly to chat even if we haven’t got anything new to share, has become a bright spot of conversation when I feel like I can’t put a full sentence together. A game of Dungeons&Dragons, where I can play someone different from myself, someone talkative and enthusiastic, has helped me recognize that often times saying something silly is better than not contributing.

So I’m saying it here: I am silly. I forget that I need the communities I’ve shambled into. I am sorry if I have been absent, or too quiet, or if I’ve wandered away from a party when you were looking to talk to me. I’m going to fight my instinct to hide. Because I am still here. And I love you.



I have been in pain this year. I don’t like to admit that. Acknowledging it makes it more real. I prefer to put jokes on top, or write about someone else entirely. Fiction is easier for me, until it isn’t. And right now it isn’t, because I’m hiding too much.

There is place in my lower back where the disk pushes on a nerve. A lot of people experience this, but not many people experience a pain so excruciating that it causes them to black out. This has happened to me. And when I am pushing myself up from the floor to crawl out of the bathroom, I have not found it helpful to focus on what most people experience. Nor is it helpful to wonder why I am unable to cope with my pain, or why it is happening to me at a relatively young and healthy period of my life.

I write stories because I love them, and it’s the only magic I know. Writing a fully functioning dream into another person’s brain is absolutely magic, but the magic is dim right now.

I wrote a novella in April but I am afraid to edit it. I don’t know where I’d send it, and I don’t have an agent.

I wrote several tiny stories for Curious Fiction, and I am collecting them into handbound magazines for an artist’s market in August, but I feel so weird asking for money for my art.

I have collected too many rejection letters on the stories I thought worthy, and I am worried that the only markets who were interested in my words have closed.

I am telling you all of this, because no one should be alone in these fears. And I know you’ve felt them, too.

Sometimes the words stop. And I need to look at why. I had a steroid shot in my lower back this week so I could exercise without sending my back into muscles spasms. I wanted to use some of my recovery time to write a backlog of small stories for Curious Fiction, but I spent most of it exercising and making little books. I also made a spell book for a new game of dungeons and dragons. Part of me wants to call this time wasted, but it made me happy. And I know that any captured bit of happiness right now is not a waste of time.

I am building myself up, because I don’t know if the steroid will work. I don’t know if my bad days are behind me, or if I’m only putting off some larger bodily failure. I have considered getting a more discrete cane, because on the bad days I had to use a walking stick that is almost as tall as I am to navigate my house.

(Only marginally more discrete- I have seen canes with crystal doorknob handles and if I have to carry one, I’d like to look like an extra-planer botanist witch.)

I think I am struggling to reconcile the idea that who I am does not change when I am unable to create. I love making things. I usually ask my friends what they are making- any expression of art is exciting, because it comes from a place near the core of ones being. But I know that the core can burn out. It’s understandable to be exhausted. It’s enough to find the people you love and sit down with them and be.