I return to The Road to Indigo with the fresh energy of a new year and a renewed commitment to my writing life. Tin House Fiction Workshop in Portland accepted me on the strength of an excerpt from my novel, The Road to Indigo, and I returned last July to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since I moved to French Louisiana, where my novel is set. I came away from Tin House and novelist Naomi Jackson’s workshop with laser observations and solid suggestions for how to shape my novel into what it wants to be in the world.
At the start of 2018, by the light of a Super Moon, I wrote a list of what I wanted to release, put it in a burning bowl, and dumped the ashes in a pond. I also wrote a list of things I wanted to increase/manifest in 2018 and held it under the moon’s light. On that list is a promise to myself and my novel:
Finish revising The Road to Indigo and secure an agent and/or publisher.
- Write more poems and send them out to journals.
- Apply for writer residencies.
- Apply for grants to support me as I finish revising my novel.
- Edit books and write/edit magazines on contract.
- Read a novel a month (I signed up for the NPR/NYT novel a month discussion group, which I found after I declared a novel a month. First up: Jessmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.)
- I’ve signed up through a poets’ group to blog about anything literary once a week. This is my first post.
About this time last year, I planned a blog called, “The Humble Flaneur,” its content flowing from what I learned from my wanderings. While my primary focus has shifted for now, these thoughts about finding treasure in the seemingly ordinary are timeless and relevant.
“What is the nature of the search, you ask? Really, it is very simple…so simple that it is easily overlooked… The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a castaway do? Why he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn’t miss a trick. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
–Walker Piercy’s character Binx Bolling* in “The Moviegoer”
*Binx “battles despair with a constant call to the immediacy of the present,” per Billy Sothern in his essay in the luscious and illuminating Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit (speaking at Tulane this spring!) and Rebecca Snedeker, who say of his essay, “This list of Sothern’s own (New Orleans) treasures is a testament to his conscience and his wanderings and an invitation to everyone, of this city or any city, to count up the stations of their own journeys home, the dusty miracles of the backstreets, and the stories to be told. Where are your treasures and your milestones, what mud is on your shoes, toward what shrines are you traveling on your pilgrimage?”
Billy Sothern implores, “Do not sink into the everydayness of your life. Fight despair. Find treasure.” Right on, Billy. That’s my aim for the fathomable future.