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VIP Section 2016

There we were in my second favorite place on earth, this insanely great writing workshop, Shawn and me. I was deep in the zone, blissed-out on inspiration, heartbreak, truth, when this friend rushed over and said, “Hey, I’ve been holding onto this idea for you!” She knew I’d been writing a book that touched on my time in Black Rock City and although she’d never been, she’d recently read a few stories from fellow Burners, stories that cracked open her heart

“You need to do an anthology about Burning Man,” she said.

Quick-stab to my temple. I flashed on the steady stream of bullshit we’d all seen online… glossy pictures of professional models, billowing fabric, rumors of public sex, drugs, other. The last thing I wanted to do was add to the heap.

“You’ll make it beautiful,” she said. “You’ll find just the right stories. I know you will!”

Silence.

Because that was the thing. Stories, hundreds of them, not just mine, had cracked open my own heart for years and years. I was sitting in that workshop because I loved words, meaning, narrative. We all have stories, every single one of us who’s ever been to BRC. Maybe our time there was a disaster. Maybe we couldn’t stand the dust, the people, the dubstep. But we can all agree that it’s one of the hardest places to describe. The strangest, most creative, most expressive, most…

Home.

That’s how I describe it. My favorite place.

Shawn turned to me, eyebrows up, nodded his head yes.

“It’s a great idea,” he said. “I’ll do it with you. If you’ll have me.”

Shawn, my partner, we’d burned twice together. Both times under emotionally extreme circumstances. I figured the playa would spit some Man fire at us, burn off our eyebrows, send us back to PDX in separate cars. It’s known for that. But we came out alive.

We burned very differently. Me, at Home. My heart, my soul, my best and worst cliches, alive in that desert. Shawn, brand new, still trying to find his playa legs.

It was a project worth thinking about. And after talking about what each of us might bring to it, my devotion to BRC, my commitment to art, his wonderment of BRC, his amazing editorial skills, we realized we might just strike a natural balance.

We met with local writers, artists, publishers to get an idea what we were in for. Collected as much information as we could find. I reached out to the BORG to make sure I wasn’t stealing anyone’s intellectual property. I asked a couple of dear Burner-friends if they’d contribute to the collection. It was all good. All within the realm of possibility.

So that’s how it started.

Thank you, Kirsten.

It’s on…

Open Submissions: April 15 – June 30 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Room Of My Own

The biggest news since the births of my four children: I’ve been approved for an office space. A tiny little white box of a room with a sliding window, a mini-sink, and a view of the brick building across the street. It has a ceiling. And a raw plywood floor. A lock on the door. And a shared bathroom down the hall. It’s hot in summer. Cold in winter.

It’s mine. 

Mine. With my books and papers and notecards and storyboards arranged just so, and exactly where I left them the day before. I was the mom who thought the babies would sleep in a Moses basket at my feet while I wrote everyday from ten to two. I’m the woman who said, “I won’t lose myself to parenthood. I will keep my identity.” I was the writer who by some miracle, which I’ve always believed was nothing more than a sympathetic jury, won a Literary Arts Fellowship for a drama I wrote on the bathroom floor while my toddlers tried to shake the door down.

I’m a woman who lives by impossible standards. I  overcompensate at work, at raising children, keeping the house, maintaining relationships. I’m a workhorse wearing blinders so it looks like I’m just plowing forward, like I’ve got it all under control. But it feels like I’m failing. Everyone. All the time.

They used to tell me, me with my leaky boobs, just make time to write. I didn’t. I couldn’t. (FYI in my world there’s no such thing as Just. Just abort. Just adopt. Just write. It all breaks my heart. It’s supposed to break my heart.) But even if I didn’t fail at the time thing, there was the space issue. One notecard left on any free surface of my house was immediately vacuumed up by the universe. Single sock heaven.

And all the while, I was failing the voices too.  The ones in my head.

I’m not a writer who doesn’t know what to write. Beautiful, painful, complicated characters and scenes. All without breath. I’m not saying they’re interesting or that I have any talent at all. I’m just saying they’re always there. Years and years of micro notebooks in the minivan, voice memos on my phone, sharpie on my arm, anything to mark whatever comes at me or out of me as I go about the momming and working and housing. And always the broken fantasy of a room of my own. The impossibility of it.

There was no money for childcare so the children, the four of them, had to be in school full-time. Also the two-year payment plan for twins in kindergarten had to be payed off. And I had to find my people. Which I did, eighteen months ago. Sage Ricci, Tom Spanbauer, and the Dangerous Writers. The exact right place for a story so itchy in my head and my hands it was beginning to show up as eczema. Then I had to ask for extra hours at work to help pay for the space and when that unexpectedly fell apart the whole thing nearly came undone.

But after all these years in, after all the waiting, I finally arrived at Fuck It. I’m doing this thing even if I can’t afford it. I’m getting rid of cable. I’m downgrading the internet. Whatever it takes.

A tiny little white box of a room with a sliding window, a mini-sink, and a view of the brick building across the street. It has a ceiling. And a raw plywood floor. A lock on the door. And a shared bathroom down the hall. It’s hot in summer. Cold in winter.

It’s so mine I could just cry my guts out.

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