What a year. From the publication of “Thrift Store Coats” in April through the recent acceptance of my debut novella “The Busker” and the presale of the forthcoming novel Pine Gap, this was a year of payoff for the last decade of my writing work. Stories I started in graduate school as early as 2009 made their way into print, Thrift Store Coats collected the best of my published work over that span as well of a few newer pieces, and my stint at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference helped me to pivot from what I’ve done to what I’ll do next.
More than any printing, acceptance letter, rejection letter—and even in the middle of a strong year there were still plenty of those—the thing that made 2018 really tick was the chance to travel around the country and meet folks. The release of Thrift Store Coats facilitated trips to and readings in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Illinois. I had a chance to present at an academic conference in Claflin University in South Carolina, to offer a writing workshop at the transformational Tuxedo Project in Detroit, and to begin work as the fiction editor at burgeoning small press imprint Barren Press. I accomplished author bucket list goals like reading at Literati Books in Ann Arbor and participating in the fantastic InKY Reading Series, after which I fashioned my own brainchild, the Folk & Fiction series that ran its course in Cincinnati a few years back. Meeting other authors, moving around the country, asking and answering questions, and planning more and more words—it was a fulfilling year. That’s all thanks to the booksellers and campuses that welcomed me and so many other writers, to the publishers (especially the small houses) who continue to navigate a wildly difficult market and advocate on behalf of authors new and seasoned, and the readers who continue to seek out new voices, using fiction and poetry as a tool to navigate this wild world.
With gratitude to those folks, I’ll continue writing and publishing in the coming year, but will turn a big part of my focus to creating space for the next group of writers on their way up, whether in the classroom or at conferences, as an editor for Barren, through the curation of the St. Ann St. Visiting Writers Series and its forthcoming pod/videocast series, and as a reader and advocate for the great folks I got to meet this year. Every day, the depth and quality of the community formed between and amongst writers makes itself apparent to me, and I look forward to embracing it and working to create opportunities for others in the coming year.
My deeper thanks to those of you who’ve followed along on this journey: there are good things ahead, and I look forward to sharing them.