Soon, I’m off to England for a semester. I’ll be teaching and writing and touring around. I’ll hit the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Festival America in Paris. I cannot wait to go, but I’m leaving behind my family for four months, so I’m feeling a little anxious, too. The anticipation is what gets me, the waiting for something to happen, whether it’s an adventure or the first day of class… which is it’s own kind of adventure. I’ll be teaching all creative writing this fall, a dream come true. I’m reading Christopher Vogler’s book, The Writer’s Journey, a text I’ll be using in my “Writing the Young Hero’s Journey” course. It’s a great little book, especially if you like Joseph Campbell and his take on the hero’s journey. I first encountered Campbell through an interview he did with Bill Moyers when I was in college. I love interviews–they’re such a great way to listen in on fascinating conversations. I’m hoping to interview writers this fall while I’m festing it up… check back for updates.
This summer, I’ve been lying low. After a lovely trip to the Ozarks and recovering from surgery (more on that later, perhaps), I settled into some serious writing and research. I’m working on a new book, a SciFi/dystopian novel in which terrible things happen. When I was young, I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. My first chapter book was A Wizard of Earthsea. Ursula Le Guin is one of my heroes–I met her at AWP in Seattle in March. Recently, I’ve been devouring all kinds of sci fi and fantasy, some of it guided by Jo Walton’s brilliant blog, and some of it guided by recommendations from friends. I have the good fortune of knowing scientifically-minded folks who are willing to read early drafts of my book and steer my research towards new, ever mind-blowing directions. Some of the books that have appeared on my nightstand in the past weeks include Every Boy Should Have a Man, The Word for World is Forest, The Lathe of Heaven, More than Human, Among Others, The Windup Girl, Stories of Your Life and Others, The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson, MaddAdam, The Secret Garden, Here Lies Arthur, Three Day Road, The Orenda. Burning Chrome by William Gibson is searing my brain at the moment. Fantastic stuff.
I do hope you and yours are doing well. It was a long, hard winter here in Illinois. Lots of ice and snow and dark days. Winter tends to bring out the grouchy in folks. But it’s summer now. Choosing Civility helped me navigate some tricky spots of late, as did reading Anne Lamott’s excellent Fb post about writing your truth: “As I’ve said a hundred times, if people wanted me to write more warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I’ll leave you with a tasty music morsel, “Spancil Hill” sung by Irish songwriter Christy Moore along with the Pogues. I’m hoping to see both while I’m on the other side of the pond.