The essay I’ve been workshopping first arrived as fragments. A few lyrical vignettes and a prose poem. An unruly thing, it spidered into tangents, most of which had to be lopped off. The extraction file has four times the word count of the working piece. Various incarnations float on my desktop under different titles. It’s taken a long time to shape, and even still, it isn’t finished. But it’s getting close.
It’s a nonfiction piece, but I don’t know how the story ends. The truth is slippery, elusive, and there are endless ways to tell it. Lately I’ve been tracking the way some of my favorite writers’ truths appear as essays, then novels, then memoirs. You can’t escape the truth, but neither can you capture it–at least not cleanly. It shapeshifts with time and perspective. It lures and resists, daring us to transform it into story. Put pen to paper, watch it wink and run.
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