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!”
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…
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.