Insane in the Brain

 All of this within the past 48 hours: No from the Fine Arts Work Center for a 9-month fellowship. No from Whitman College (the only gig that would have kept me close to S) for a Visiting Assistant Professor of Fiction position. No from Tupelo Press for Personae of War—form rejection letter. No from Narrative for their new iStory genre.
Also within the past 48 hours: Submission to Red Hen Press Short Story Contest. Application for part-time lecturer in creative nonfiction position at University of Minnesota. Submission for the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Fiction for a first manuscript. Submission to the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Submission to the Saint Lawrence Book Award. Phone conference with a publicist and literary agent who has my manuscript in his hands.
Oh, and I re-ordered the entire manuscript, placing a card for each of 29 stories on the floor and deliberating over the best-of-the-best order in which to present them: 
I call S who had his own roller coaster of a week and together we stay up until five in the morning at a friend’s house, drinking and talking to geese and playing Wii and doing minor drugs (nothing my parents wouldn’t have done). Momentarily, it feels like college. But no. This is different. This is the stuff of conscientious avoidance. This is the ever-disciplined, love-sick, can’t-seem-to-ever-stop-working writer saying Goddammit all and When will it stop and as Raymond Carver so poignantly put it, Will you please be quiet, please?
It is because of this mania—this propulsion of what if’s and hell no’s—that I opted to work Saturdays at Arrowhead Chocolates just 4 blocks from my house in Joseph. It helps keep things in perspective. It makes me smile. Conveniently, they just had a photo shoot done, which can be viewed here. Scroll to see why chocolate at a place like this is good for the writer’s soul. That’s my pal Erica, the sweet blonde-haired barista, and her parents the chocolatiers, who all own the shop together. Good people here in this tiny town, and a good thing for that indeed.

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