We Regret to Inform You

We heard from Amanda in sales that a gurney had been sent up to the third floor this morning. We received the email from HR after lunch.


“We regret to inform you,” the email stated, “that Mark Lawson, senior director of communications, passed away this morning. Mark has been with the company for 24 years. He will be missed. A grief therapist will be available tomorrow in the conference space next to the break room for anyone who would like her services.”


It looked just like the HR emails that reminded us of upcoming holidays and that skin cancer screenings were available on the top floor. Navy blue font, no orange exclamation point. It blended in with the rest of our inboxes. We could have missed it had we not been waiting for it.


We all went back to work. No one in the contracts department knew Mark that well. Ellison had only been at his position for three months. Yasmina had been here almost a year, the longest of us new hires. We were young and promising and ready to go over terms and clauses. The only time any of us had contacted Mark was when our boss told Julie to check with the communications department on a stipulation involving a client and a third party.


“That’s a marketing question,” Mark had replied via email.


For the rest of the day, we heard whispers about how this man we’d never met had collapsed at his desk. We gave our condolences whenever we passed anyone from the communications team in the hallways. We asked Amanda what she had seen, but she told us that she hadn’t gotten a good look at him as he was wheeled out of the building. There had been a wall of EMTs and HR representatives surrounding Mark as if he were the eye of a storm, as if they were shielding us from witnessing something unsightly.


We knew our morbid excitement over the email had marked us as immature and unprofessional to ourselves and to each other. We fidgeted at our desks and spoke in soft tones, worried that raising our voices would further our insensitivity. Amanda, meanwhile, had been with the company for seven years and was unphased by anything that happened in the office. Her heels made the same measured clack across the floor; her smile held the same welcoming broadness. At the end of the day, she told us how relieved she was to have completed a huge campaign.


She was older than us and yet young enough for us to feel comfortable inviting her to lunch, complaining to her about our department, and asking her for dating advice. Julie had taken to wearing her stringy blond hair into a top bun like Amanda’s, while Wes had adopted the same smirk Amanda used when someone asked for help on their projects.


John, in the accounts payable department next to ours, took the news harder than we did. He paced our floor and muttered to himself, his bald head sweating.


“Mark was three years from retirement,” John said. “I’m ten years younger than he was.”


“It’s so sad, John,” we said to him.


“Cardiovascular problems run in my family,” John said.


“Don’t worry, John,” we said.


“I should exercise more,” John continued. “My wife takes spin classes. We have a stability ball in storage.”


“Sounds good, John,” we said.


John replaced his chair with the stability ball the following day. When he left his cubicle to attend a meeting, we took the ball, formed a circle, and rolled it back and forth to each other.


It was a rare moment during which we had somehow scanned and duplicated each contract, updated the statuses of all our business deals, triple-checked for signatures on every line. Yasmina’s shoulders relaxed after so many months of them tense near her ears, and Randall had stopped sighing at the top of each hour. We talked about what hobbies we had, which home towns we had come from, whether we were using this job as a step toward a better company or grad school. As we let the ball travel across the floor, Axel heard us laughing and left his office to see what we were up to.


“So new here, all of you,” Axel said. He leaned against the wall and ran a hand through his gelled hair. We smiled nervously. “And so strong as a team! You’ll all need each other to stick it through. It’s hard to find a workplace that really functions as a second home.”


He looked at us one by one before heading into the boss’s office to discuss some nonstandard client agreement. We returned to our desks. As soon as we emailed Amanda to joke about how Axel’s life lessons must contribute to the department’s high turnover rate, we received two more emails from HR, one after the other.


“We regret to inform you,” the email started again.


“That Susan Shields passed away this morning.”


“That Chris Pall passed away earlier today.”


They were both in accounting. Julie asked if any of us knew the difference between accounting and accounts payable. Our boss walked by as she asked the question and frowned. None of us knew, and none of us asked John, either, when he returned from his meeting even sweatier and paler than usual.


“I’m taking the stairs now,” he said. “I’ve got to keep my health up.”


Amanda hadn’t heard how Susan or Chris died, but she did know them both and told us she wouldn’t be joining us for drinks after work that night. After our boss gave us each a new stack of assignments an hour before the end of the day, none of us went out for drinks either. We stayed until 7:30 and went home straight after.


We had moved to the city to work here, all of us young and promising contracts people. Wes’s fiancé had been living in the city two years prior to complete his master’s. Ellison’s family was on the other side of the country, and he planned to keep it that way. Sunny had an abuela in the suburbs. Our friends and mentors and older brothers had gushed about the city before the move.


“There’s energy in everything,” they had said. “So many people, so many things to do, so many adventures to have.”

Our bedrooms were the sizes of halal carts, and the rest of our apartments weren’t much larger. Our roommates were polite and out of the way, even if at night our walls were so thin we could hear each other typing on keyboards.


“Can they hear us?” we asked our partners after sex.


“Probably,” they answered. “We can hear them.”


They would go to sleep while we lay awake, listening to our roommates’ phone calls home, the foreign music of the restaurant on the ground floor, laughing groups leaving the movie theater down the block, food delivery boys flying past on their bicycles. We hoped the experience would feel less strange with time.


We tried inviting each other, us new hires, to the same clubs and festivals and parties that our friends and lovers would take us to, but we often found ourselves too tired to do much more than take the subway home and stay there.


When we arrived in the office the next day, HR had sent six more emails.


“We regret to inform you,” they began. Someone from the copywriting department, another from communications, three from production. The sixth was to let us know the elevator was under repair after its cord snapped. When we had walked in that morning, there was a single yellow band stretched across the elevator doors.


Randall complained that HR should switch up the emails a little, change the font color or add a picture or something, after he nearly forwarded one of the emails to a client awaiting approval on a rider. We nodded, as we had almost done the same thing.


A seventh email came: a memorial service would be held at the end of the month for everyone who had passed away, and a voluntary company-wide meeting would take place in the ground floor event space tomorrow morning for anyone concerned about the state of the office.


“I can’t work like this,” Mallory said. “Whatever is going on, I can’t deal with it.”


She told us she was taking a walk, but she never came back. We spent our lunch break that day waiting in line for the grief therapist.


“I don’t think it’s affecting my work, but is it bad that I’m bad at my work?” Ellison asked.


“Can we get more than ten minutes of time with you?” April asked.


“I know you’re here because you specialize in grief, but can we come to you for other non-grief-related problems?” Julie asked.


We saw Amanda in line for the therapist on our way back to our floor. Her face looked just as emotionless as ever, which we admired, and we told her we were excited to catch up with her soon. She grinned with a stiff precision that frightened us and said she wouldn’t be available for drinks again until the weekend.


While we ate lunch at our desks and filed our work, we asked each other about the loved ones we’d lost. Our lists were short, but we were young. And promising. The boss came by to ask how we were all doing, then walked back into his office. We watched him shut the door and heard him turn his lock.


“I sent my two weeks’ notice yesterday,” Victor said. “To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll even stay two weeks longer.”


Two of us nodded, having also sent our two weeks’ in. We thought about Mallory. Yasmina said she was ready to just quit with no notice, just like her. None of them had other positions lined up yet, but they were done with the company, done with the thankless work. The rest of us looked down, wondering whether what we were feeling for them was panic or jealousy.


At the company-wide meeting, we sat in a group at the back of the event space and tried not to think of how late we would have to stay that evening. Our phones buzzed with four more emails from HR. One in public outreach, three in sales. From our spot, we watched Amanda’s smooth, placid face from across the room as she checked her phone.


A row of chairs lined the right side of the stage. As the graying CEO asked the room to quiet down from his spot at the center of the stage, the chairs filled with small, nervous women in pale cardigans and paisley dresses. They introduced themselves as the HR department, saying their names down the line as if they were doing roll call in grade school. Somewhere near the front, we heard Axel let out a low whistle. After some brief remarks on the arrangements being made for the memorial service, the CEO asked if anyone wanted to voice their questions or concerns.


“Have the elevator shafts been checked? How about the fire alarms? The stairwells?”


“How does HR learn about these deaths before my department does?”


“Is it true that the building’s haunted?”


“Where do the bodies go?”


“Why do these deaths keep happening?”


As the room grew louder, the HR department stood up from their chairs quietly and filed out of the room. The last of the nervous women pulled her phone from her cardigan pocket and let out a sob as the door closed behind her. A second later, the room filled with various chimes and buzzes. Another email from communications. The room exploded with questions being shouted over those who were weeping.


“That’s it,” Yasmina said. “I quit.”


Wes, Sunny, and Adrian agreed. They walked out of the building, as did a few others from departments we’d never been in touch with. The rest of us went back up to the top floor to continue working.


The boss came by and asked if everything was alright, ignoring the empty desks. He didn’t wait for our replies, instead walking briskly into his office to lock himself in again. One by one, the HR emails began to appear in our inboxes by the hour, still bearing names of people we never met, hardly knew, and couldn’t find in ourselves to mourn. One by one, more of us got up from our desks and left, sliding letters of resignation under our boss’s door. We were down to a handful of people by the end of the day.


On our way out of the building, we ran into Amanda. She flashed a perfect smile at us and mentioned that she was on her way to celebrate another successful campaign.


“I can’t wrap my head around what’s going on,” Julie said. “How are we expected to handle this?”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Amanda said, her eyes wide. “Everything is fine.”


“Everyone is dying,” we told her.


“I worked hard on this campaign,” she said. “I can’t focus on anything else.”


She turned her back on us and left, the clack of her heels echoing across the building floor. Except for Julie, who was crying, we did what Amanda had done and pretended nothing had gone wrong.


Once we had gone our separate ways, I loosened my tie. There was a park by the office that I would go to when it was a particularly nice day. It had a fountain, some men who played chess, a dog run. I sat on the lip of the fountain, watching other people file in and out of skyscrapers. I stayed there until the sun went down, looking at my office, wondering if the lights inside always stayed on or if there was ever a moment when the whole building went dark.


The next day, I was the only one who returned to the office. The boss’s door remained closed. Axel came by to ask how I was doing, what the team was up to, what it was like to be so young, so promising, with so much left to look forward to.



Interview: Brenda Miller



Brenda Miller is the author of five collections of essays: An Earlier Life (Ovenbird Books, 2016), Who You Will Become (Shebooks Press, 2015), Listening Against the Stone: Selected Essays (Skinner House Books, 2011), and Blessing of the Animals (Eastern Washington University Press, 2009), and Season of the Body (Sarabande Books, 2002). She has also co-authored two craft books—The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World (Skinner House Books, 2012), with Holly J. Hughes, and the wildly popular Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction (2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, 2012), with Suzanne Paola.


An Earlier Life received the 2017 Washington State Book Award in Memoir, and Miller has received numerous other awards for her writing, including six Pushcart Prizes. Her short work has been published in numerous journals and literary magazines. She is on the faculty of Western Washington University.


Please see “Balance,” new collaborative work by Brenda Miller and Lee Gulyas, as well as our review of An Earlier Life, also in Aquifer.


Lisa Roney for The Florida Review:
One of the things that was so much fun about reading An Earlier Life was re-seeing some of the pieces that had been published before in literary magazines and how now they hold together so tightly as a book.


Brenda Miller:
I’ve worked so hard on that part.


How did you make that happen?


As with many of my books of essays I’m never really writing my individual pieces with a book in mind. Every time I have tried to do that I get very inhibited and I start censoring myself and I go blank, so I’ve learned over the years to just write my stuff, and then when I’ve reached a critical mass I start putting it together and seeing what organically is arising that holds these essays together. This is something I tell my students all the time—you have what I call your perennial questions, perennial issues that will come up naturally on their own, so you don’t need to deliberately be trying to write a particular story. So in this one I had a lot of shorter pieces—especially the middle section of the book is about a particular time as a young adult that was very difficult for me (I have tried to write an entire memoir about it, but it didn’t work)—so then I had all these little snatches that to me seemed to be making a story, but I wasn’t sure, so I started putting those together and just playing with that, and they ended up being the exact center of the book and creating their own little narrative in there.


The first part of the book had what I call more of a spiral chronology where it’s pretty much going even from pre-birth, with the prologue, which is called “An Earlier Life” and is kind of a fantasy imagining of what an earlier life for me might have been. And then going through childhood, but always referencing the future and what’s going to happen in the future. Then we have that second section about the time in my early twenties when I was living in the desert. Then the third section is more about being an adult and aging and watching my parents age. Then—I really didn’t do this deliberately—but the last real piece of the book is about the afterlife. It really came together.


It’s amazing. Not that many collections of essays work so strongly as a whole.


Even though I was doing a lot of hard work trying to put it together, a lot of these things were very fluid as I was doing it. It was only after I had that last draft I thought, Okay now this works.

But I still have that epilogue. [Laughs.]


The epilogue is that piece called “We Regret to Inform You,” which is in the form of rejection notes, and I love the piece, and many people love the piece, and I kept trying to put it in different places in the book and it just didn’t work because it’s such an odd voice. I finally just stuck it on the end just to see, and it actually works, I think, because it kind of goes from the beginning to the end in one piece. It’s almost like a review of all we have gone through, but in a very different voice. It’s kind of fun, but it’s also very serious and it ends on a positive note so I was pretty pleased with it. You never really know until the book’s in production and you see it as a book-book. Then you say, Is this really going to work? I’m very pleased that it does.


It really does. In your recent Rumpus interview with Julie Marie Wade, you commented that you thought at some point your early life would run dry as a subject matter, but you have approached it this time with a sense of forgiveness for yourself, something you said was new for you. How do you think that writing about the same events or subjects changes over time and what’s the relationship between revisiting our histories and writing and deepening our understanding of them?


That’s a great question because we do kind of tell our same stories. The beauty of it for both the writer and the reader is this coming at it from different perspectives, different angles. I think it was Virginia Woolf who wrote about how the present is a platform for viewing the past [“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” 18 March 1925 entry, The Diary of Virginia Woolf, v. 3, ed. Anne Olivier Bell. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980.] That present moment keeps shifting every minute as you get older and have different perspectives on things. Even just content-wise or point-of-view-wise as you get older—I hope—you do see those early selves with a bit more compassion or understanding of what went on. You have a bit more distance in order to explore it.


I really didn’t think I would go back to that early young adulthood life in my writing again because a lot of my first book was about that. It comes up occasionally, but this time what’s been going on for me is that as a writer as I progress or evolve—and I hope I keep evolving for the rest of my life—otherwise I’m gonna get pretty bored—I’ve been trying new forms. That form of the rejection note, for instance, is what I call a hermit crab essay, which is a term I use in Tell It Slant, where you appropriate a whole different form or voice to tell your story. In this case, rejection notes. When you’re using a form like that you’re starting with the form to suggest the content rather than the other way around, different from how we traditionally approach it—I have an idea, what form am I going to put it in? When you do it the other way, it opens up the door for unexpected writing. I’d say [I can find new ideas in the same material because of] trying new forms, trying different things. When you do that the essay itself, the writing itself will show you a different perspective.


Another example in this book is the one called “Pantoum for 1979,” and that’s the most recent essay. It got put in at the very last minute because when I wrote it, I thought, This one has to go in! It was part of a project I’ve been doing for years now, which is appropriating the poetic forms like a sonnet or a villanelle in order to explore how tell a story in prose without it being just a poem without line breaks. It’s been fun, and anytime you can engage that more technical part of your mind for writing that gives your brain something to do and then your subconscious comes forward. In the case of the “Pantoum for 1979,” it gets at that time frame using the very specific repetitive pattern of a pantoum. The pantoum tends to be perfect for topics that are rather obsessive, and I’m like Okay this is good. I’m always thinking about this time [of my life], but never quite get at it. I realized too that in that section comprised of the shorter works, there was never a real explanation about who this person was, how I got to know him, what was going on. The pantoum, even though it’s such a restrictive form, allowed for all this narrative. Every one of my [pre-publication] readers said, “Yes, this is what we were missing.” I’d say really experimenting with form and having fun is the way to keep your writing evolving.


It must be great that you demonstrate that so clearly in your own work for your students. You know, students sometimes are very resistant—”I just want to write what I want to write.” But if you show them the excellence that can come out of that, it must be very inspirational for them.


It is interesting that one of the biggest challenges of writing is getting students (or anyone) to loosen up and have some fun. This year, I’m teaching an 8:00 a.m. class, and I think because they’re so tired their guard is down, so they’ve been willing to try a lot of things. At least up until this moment actually—as soon as it’s final projects time then suddenly it’s very serious and they don’t want to use anything that they’ve tried. With graduate students, they’re understandably so focused on their thesis projects, and everything they write has to go in their thesis. It was only when I brought in a collage artist, and we cut up magazines and created this huge mess in the classroom—magazines torn up and glue sticks out and coloring pens—and they were having so much fun. We created these things, and they weren’t for the purpose of doing anything with them. I ignited that little playful spirit, and ever since then they’ve been very game to just try stuff and see what’s gonna happen.


In last couple years in a graduate literature course I’ve taught, we read a book every week and wrote pastiches of some kind or another, and they were the greatest thing. We had so much fun, writing satires and a whole variety of stuff. Some of their best work came out of it. One student said she’d always wanted to write about her experiences going to music festivals but she never felt like the stakes were low enough to try it out, and she ended up changing her entire thesis and wrote an entirely new thesis in about six months that was just terrific.


Nice. I find that kind of thing happens all the time with thesis students that if I get them onto a new form, then all of a sudden they just switch gears and the writing’s fresh and original.


One of the other things that’s striking about An Earlier Life is your use of not just the first person but the collective “we.” You do that quite frequently, and I just wanted to ask why you’re drawn to that unusual point of view in your work. Do you think it’s related to the collaborative writing projects that I know you’re also participating in, or is it something different?


I had never thought of it that way, but it could be. Right now, I do a lot of my work in writing groups, either with my students or with my own writing group, where it’s generative writing. We have certain timed writing exercises and rules and all that stuff, and so sometimes it just comes out in the “we” voice. I think when I’m writing in that mode it comes naturally. I never set out to say, Okay, now I’m going to write a piece in the “we” voice. I think that happens when I feel like I’m not just talking about my experience but the experience of my cohort growing up in Southern California. I’m trying to think of exactly which pieces use the “we”—I know there’s the one about the lifeguard [“Dark Angel”].


There’s “Dark Angel,” but also “L’Chaim,” “Change,” “Sweat Lodge,” and maybe a couple of others where the “we” is your family [“In Orbit”].


I just love it when people see stuff in my work that I had no idea about. [Laughs.]


With those pieces, I’m not talking about a particular experience of mine, but about a particular experience of a generation of people. “Dark Angel” is this piece about the lifeguard and just going to the beach in Santa Monica and just us girls and how we were in those awkward teenage bodies and connecting to our bodies. That particular piece was supposed to be three separate essays, but they weren’t really saying anything on their own, so I put them together and saw this theme of distress and that kind of growing-up angst and undiagnosed depression—all things that a lot of girls go through. That piece uses three different points of view—the first section is in the “I,” the second in the “you,” and the third in the “we.” They show different phases or aspects of growing up.


It’s a strategy that can work to make readers feel included, and I certainly felt very much that way, but I think writing with the “we” is tricky because sometimes people can say, Oh why are you speaking for me? I felt like you handled it in a very gentle way, so it never got overwhelming or bossy. It never became a royal “we.”


You find it in fiction, too, and it is tricky because, for one thing, it doesn’t have a gendered pronoun, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Yet when it works, it works. Oftentimes, I’m organically writing in a particular form like a “you” or “we” point of view and it’s actually not working, but it is getting the material out. So I always look at that in revision and often change the point of view. I really want to encourage people, like I encourage my students, to just try it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep it in that form, but you probably will get to some lines and material that you wouldn’t get to any other way.


Would you speak about the ways in which genre boundaries seem to be in flux these days?


They are totally in flux. I love it. I love it so much.


We used to get that advice—there was that sort of classic advice—that you should choose one genre and stick to that. Obviously, we make something else of that advice now. [Laughs.]


People are doing such amazing work out there. This particular book is probably the book of mine that does that more than my other books. I’m using poetic forms. I’m using a lot of
hermit crab–type things. Even the use of the “we” voice is a fictionalization of experience. I feel like this book is really in flux between poetry and nonfiction and fiction and other
things, too. [Laughs.]


I think it’s very exciting not to be couched in these very distinctive genre boxes. When I was editor of Bellingham Review, I kept seeing more and more that people are really trying to break those boundaries. I’m all for it.


The collaborative work really does that because, like, What is this? There’s no one speaker, a lot of them are in short sections, and some of them were responding to art, some were responding to a particular topic. It’s a very exciting back and forth that doesn’t really fit anywhere, which makes it hard to find a place for them. We get rejected a lot because people just don’t know what to do with them.


Send one to me. One thing about The Florida Review is that there’s a history of engaging with new forms or forms being newly accepted as of artistic merit. The previous two editors did this over the years with creative nonfiction and then graphic narrative, and I’m looking to stay in that tradition. We’re starting to accept some digital storytelling, to recognize that as an art form, and we’re open to all kinds of things.


One more major question—your writing is characterized by an intense interiority and often somberness, but you also sometimes exhibit what I might characterize as insouciance. “Swerve,” in particular. And you’ve already talked about “We Regret to Inform You.” It’s not a light humor, but it’s funny. How does humor work for you and your writing, and how do you decide when it’s right to be funny?


I never set out to be humorous because once you do then you’re not. [Laughs.] I mean, some writers are. Some writers are very good at that, but I find if I’m not having a good time then I might get bored with it. It comes out of playing with form. Often the hermit crab pieces have what I’d call an inadvertent humor to them because you’re usually taking a very objective form like the rejection note—in this book I also have a dress code piece, and that kind of thing is usually pretty authoritarian and rigid—then combining that with really intense personal stories and confessions. The humor arises naturally [from the contrast] and then the key is whether it gets gimmicky. In the revision process, I have to find out what this piece is really about.


In the case of the rejection notes, I had probably twice as many as ended up in the final piece because once you start writing about rejection you have so much material on your hands. I was having a grand old time just writing them. I gave a first draft to some readers, and they said, “Yeah, it’s good but it gets a little repetitive and gimmicky,” so I had to think about what this piece was really about. I heard in several of the letters this idea of finding the role that suits you, so I cut out all the letters that didn’t have that and highlighted that theme in the others. Then it started to take on more of a cohesiveness and a sense of being a complete piece. Then it takes that turn in the middle—it’s kind of humorous at the very beginning with being rejected in my art class—not having my drawing displayed—or being rejected as a tenth-grader—not going to the dance. You know, normal things that people can relate to. Once you start working in that way, people let their guards down. They’re laughing and saying, “I can relate to that,” and then it gets more intensely personal as it goes along until I get a letter about my miscarriage as a young woman, and it’s actually from the miscarried baby, which is not something I was expecting to happen, but again it was like the form demanded it. I was just going along chronologically and I’m like,  Okay what happened next in college?Oh yeah, and I said, Do I skip that? Well, no. So, I wrote it and then just went on. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, but in the revision process I found, Oh there’s that real turning point in the essay. Whenever I read that piece aloud—and I love to read it because it’s an audience-pleaser—they’re laughing and laughing, then I get to that turn. There’s like the “Ohhhh,” and then people get subdued. Then there’s laughter again, but with a different feeling.


Though it happens a lot in more traditional essay forms, it’s more difficult. By using these other forms you automatically create what I call a shared space between the reader and the writer using a form people relate to—especially, in this case, if you’re reading to writers who are all familiar with the standard rejection note, so they’re already with you. That’s one way I go about thinking about humor.


What else would you like readers to know about An Earlier Life? And where you going next?


I’d like them to know that these essays were written over a period of time—probably five or six years—and that I did spend a lot of time getting them into the order that they are. Sometimes
readers of essays will pick it up and just read at random, and I’m thinking, I spent so much time putting it in this order, so read it in order! [Laughs.]


I’d say that the collaborative work is really intriguing to me. I also have been doing some writing challenges over the summer. I wrote from a prompt a day with a writing group—me and two other writers—and we did the prompts in different ways. The first month was from a literary magazine that had it as a part of their way of getting people to their website, but they put out a prompt a day, and my two friends and I wrote to that. We’d send each other work and we liked it so much we continued in July and made our own prompts and just rotated who gave the prompt. Then in August there was a photography blog doing a prompt a day so we would take a photograph a day and then write to that. By the end of the summer I had probably more than 220 pages of new work.


This was also while my father was dying, and I thought there’s no way I can write, but it’s the summer and I need to write. By having the community and by having the external prompts, I was able to record everything that was happening that summer as well as memories that were coming in. I have not looked at work yet, but I plan to next month and to see what’s there. That
might turn into its own little book, but would never have been written without community. The type of community we need changes as we develop as writers, and I don’t need a feedback community so much as I need a generative writing community now. But I still need community. I guess that would be the last word—I think we all need our communities.