Stephanie Burgis
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short stories, rain, and Appetites
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Any time I can't find time to write a journal entry over the weekend, it's a pretty good sign that I'm being productive and the weekend is going well. (If I'm miserable, I'm liable to take time out to complain about it.) This was a good weekend. Patrick and I went into town on Saturday to try to write despite the fact that I had no ideas, could not possibly write, and was probably not a writer anymore. About 45 minutes into our cafe trip, an idea grabbed me around the neck and held on until I finished it. As soon as we got home, I typed up the finished short-short story, "Inside the Tower", and walked around feeling pleased and glowing for the rest of the day. Then yesterday, on our way down to the forest to a Nika-walk in the rain, Patrick made a joke about wanting me to stop the rain. When I started scowling, he said, "Hey, only kidding." "I know, I know," I said. "But I'm figuring out a story!" So I'm now in the middle of a new short story, tentatively called "Some Girlfriends Can." Unlike Saturday's story, it's completely angst-free, and it's turning into a really fun break for me while I wait for more novel crits and worry about fastening down plots and research for my next novel projects.

In the meantime, I'm also reading one of those non-fiction books that feels so true and revelatory that it can become a life-marker. On Friday, when I finished re-reading (for about the 8th time) Caroline Knapp's book Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs, I decided to go online and see if she'd written anything new since the last time I'd checked (back in 2001). Unfortunately, what I found online were various obituaries; Caroline Knapp died tragically young, in 2002, at the age of 42. She was/is probably my favorite nonfiction writer, and on Saturday I bought her last book, completed just before she died: Appetites: Why Women Want. I bought it thinking it was about body image. It turns out that it is (and discusses it brilliantly), but it's also about a whole lot more than just body image. It's about the longings and the frustrations that turn into perverted body images, compulsive shopping, and frustrated sexuality; it's about the consumer culture that tells women to solve deep, internal problems through purchases and external 'fix'es; it's about the quest to turn that around and inhabit one's body with pleasure and acceptance and strength. It's an amazing book, and I'm already planning to re-read it almost immediately, to really think through the issues that she raises. (Right now I'm just scarfing it down as quickly as I can read, because it feels so liberating and scary, all at the same time.)

But in the meantime, it's time for Nika's walk.

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