I'm beginning day four of my writer's residency at the lovely Kimmel Harding Nelson Fine Arts Center in Nebraska City. What a pleasure it is to write all day with no interruptions, while surrounded by others who are engrossed in making their art. I'm hooked.
Cat Pleska, a former student of mine at Goucher College, has written a lovely memoir that will be released in May but is available for pre-prder now. Here's the jacket blurb that I was honored to write for her:
"The gifts of Cat Pleska’s Riding on Comets are many: it is fresh, candid, gently humorous, tautly lyrical, and deeply moving.Cat Pleska writes masterfully and movingly about herself, her West Virginia home, and her colorful kin. But the greatest pleasure in reading Riding on Comets is that Pleska’s prose refuses to stay on the page. Rather, it insists on being read aloud and filling the room with its rich rhythms, resonances, syntax, and family diction. Cat Pleska is a natural, graceful, spellbinding storyteller." Lisa Knopp, What the River Carries.
As soon as I submit my grades today, my sabbatical begins! I have two book projects, a food memoir tentatively entitled Bread, and a collection of essays about midlife called Like Salt or Love: Essays on Leaving Home, that I'd like to complete between now and August when I return to campus. But completing a book always takes longer that I expect, so I'm trying to decide on just one in case I don't have time for both. Do I devote myself to the safer project (the collection of essays) or the riskier project (the memoir)? Back and forth I go. I hope to have this figured out before my writer's residency begins on Monday, January 5 at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City.
"Groundwork," one of the essays in Like Salt or Love, one of the books that I'm currently working on, won the 2014 Manfred Award for the best creative writing (poetry, fiction, memoir, or other creative nonfiction) submitted to the annual conference of the Western American Literature Association. I appreciate the recognition from the good folks at WLA.