Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What I'm Up To

I mentioned in a recent post that the book that has absorbed as much writing time as I could throw at it for many, many years is now done. Almost a month ago, I finished moving commas about, adding unnecessary extra references, and fretting about formatting, and moved on to the next stage of figuring out how it will reach publication. It is still unclear how all of that will unfold, but for the moment it is off my plate.

The obvious question is, what next?

Along with being obvious, this question is also large and scary, and since I tend to be a cautious and private person, I'm not going to use this forum to explore it in detail or to speculate about some of the larger possible answers that are in contention. However, some of my thoughts about what next are directly relevant to this space, so I will share them.

One of the things that I would like to accomplish is to have more writing -- more forms of writing on more topics -- published in more places beyond this blog. Cultivating new venues has never been a core strength for me, but now that I am no longer pre-occupied with a multi-year behemoth (and intent not to commit to the next one for some time) it seems like a useful focus. I have some vague notions about how I might begin moving in that direction.

One, which is largely unconnected to the rest, is to return to devoting small but consistent chunks of time to playing with short fiction for the first time in around a decade. It may lead nowhere and it is not something that will be mentioned much in this space unless I get something published somewhere, but I still thought I would note it.

More generally, I am looking to write thoughtful nonfiction of any form or length in the following clusters of interest:

  • sexuality/gender/relationship practice/shame
  • history/race/gender/nation
  • taking action, in both everyday and more collective contexts
  • popular culture

Obviously all of these things intersect -- it makes no sense to talk about any of these things without thinking about race and gender and capital and all the rest. These categories are broad but not completely unfocused. They capture a couple of the larger possibilities I have in mind as possible future projects. They allow for the journalistic writing to which I have returned in a small way over the last year, and which I may or may not do more of in the coming year. They also allow for ongoing interest in history from below.

In moving forward, I am not yet at the stage of making decisions to write X about Y to submit to Z. If you have any suggestions about what any of those variables might be, given the interests I've just described, please let me know. But at the moment, it is more a matter of reorienting my reading and writing practices to more closely match what I have just described.

In terms of reading, I hope to expand the amount of fiction I read, and to loosely orient my non-fiction reading around the clusters of interest named above -- not rigidly, because I've just emerged from several years of my non-fiction reading being largely determined by a specific writing project and I need a bit more flexibility, but loosely.

I will engage in a slow but persistent search for places I might want to have my writing published, and experiment with doing writing that both expresses what I want to write and that is consistent with what these other venues might want to publish. Not quite sure how that is going to work, but I will stumble on through. (Suggestions for possible venues are actively invited!)

Finally, I will be working at shifting my everyday writing practices. This includes a number of aspects, some of which I will probably only ever be semi-conscious of. One of the key ones, however, will be working at translating flickers of interest or ideas into writing in a much more fluid way than has sometimes happened in the past. I have had something of this practice at points in the past because of blogging, but that has been narrower than I want to develop in the future, and it is also not something I've been quite as attuned to in the last year or two. I hope, through doing this, to broaden the possible starting points for my writing, broaden the areas that I feel comfortable writing about, and smooth the process by which flickers of interest become finished pieces of writing. Some of what I produce that way will be bloggable and will end up here. However, some of it will not, and will end up elsewhere or nowhere public.

The longer term result of all of this will, I hope, be more writing by me on more topics in more places. More immediately, the results are less clear. It may all be interrupted by book stuff anyway, or by a non-writing employment opportunity too good to refuse, or by me plunging into some other large project because it is too shiny and wonderful to stay away from. Or I might just decide next week that this approach isn't working, and, without fanfare, start doing something else.

But, maybe, possibly, for now, there might be more content and broader content on this blog. No promises, though.

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