when i first moved to north carolina from michigan in 2001, i had stopped writing, and it would be years before i started again. i often regret that lapse, but i have since discovered that writing isn’t always about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). it’s about noticing, paying attention, and pulling your exterior landscape into your interior one. i wasn’t writing those first few years in the south, but i was absorbing a lot.
when i did start writing again, everything i wrote took place in michigan. it wasn’t until i started palmetto blog in 2017, after sixteen years in the south, that a (kind of) southern voice started showing up in my writing. at the time, i thought i finally understood something about the south. like the southern habit of euphemism, for example. those giant cockroaches that used to show up in my tiny, pre-war bungalow? it sounded a lot prettier to call them "palmetto bugs," so that’s what people did. i understood that in the south, this wasn’t a lie, it was a tiny fiction. and that’s where the idea for palmetto blog was born. but then a friend of mine, a true southerner, wrote to say that palmetto bugs are, in fact, real bugs, and that they are even more vile than the actual cockroaches i was finding in my bungalow. it’s possible that this is as close to understanding the south as i’ll ever get - the understanding that beneath one layer of understanding lies another, and yet another.
palmetto blog, set mostly in durham, has also become an attempt to record a rapidly changing city. some of the places i knew and loved here twenty years ago have vanished or changed so much as to be unrecognizable. some of those places are recorded here, and some of them are relegated to our memories.
each of these tiny fictions is between 400 and 1000 words (or so), and each one starts with a photo taken in or around Durham. i do a brief edit, and then i post. the stories are both writing practice and lived moments in themselves, and so i edit them less heavily than my other fiction projects.
and as far as the rest of my writing: i just finished my first novel and am seeking an agent for both my novel and a short story manuscript. i have some publications and some awards which i'll tell you about, if you're interested.
and finally, palmetto blog is free. it’s meant to be a public project, which is why - after two years and more than 70 stories (and counting), i’ve never charged for a subscription. at the urging of friends, though, i recently added a ‘donate’ button. my hope is that by earning just a bit of money through this storytelling, i’ll be able to write even more stories and keep palmetto blog (and my other creative projects) going.
thanks for reading.