“What happens when we juxtapose? Do the unrelated become related based on their placement? Do they share energy, tossing it back and forth, creating a link where one didn’t exist before?
I sat at the bottom of the stairs for a while and stared at my hands. I couldn’t remember the last time he told me that he loved me, unless I told him first.”
This essay, “Roadmap to a Fire,” started in bits and pieces I typed into a TinyLetter last year. It’s about grief, loss, families, and the fallibility of memory.
Read it: “Roadmap to a Fire,” at Pigeon Pages
It’s funny: I keep saying “I’m going to stop writing about this” every single time I finish a piece about my sibling and their death. But the truth is, it’s not done with me. I had a real fear of becoming “the person who writes about that one thing” over and over again, but the truth is, I don’t feel moved or compelled to write much else other than that. It’s probably the singular most impactful thing in my life, and there’s no way around it. So the resounding advice I’ve received — and which I’ll share here — is this: write what you want. Write what’s on your heart.
“The thing about maps is this: If you don’t know where you’re going, you need to find out where you are. My father taught me how to read maps. Open the road atlas. Use the index to find where you are on the grid. Always a letter-number combination: E54, A5, C28. Trace your finger along the winding lines. The interstates like arteries, carrying the bulk of traffic. State routes and county highways branching off, smaller and smaller, like spidery capillaries.”
It’s the first piece I’ve published in over a year. 2019 was interesting: I didn’t publish anything, but I worked extensively on 3-4 different pieces, which are in various stages of doneness. It was a really wonderful, generative year for my writing, and personally I felt such a shift away from the rush to publish and more toward deepening the work itself. Some people are extremely productive under deadlines around creative work, and while I can manage that, I don’t think I’m the type of person who will ever be able to crank out a fantastic essay in a matter of days or weeks. It’s just not me.
I am thrilled to have worked with the lovely staff at Pigeon Pages NYC. Their editors are truly caring, and I can say the feedback and edits I received were fantastic. They were as committed to the work as I was, and that’s saying a lot.