When I graduated from college, I was in the middle of writing THE GREATEST NOVEL OF ALL TIME called "A Scribble in the Margins." I finished it a year later, immediately following my epic trip to Europe, where I saw things like this pile of sleeping Germans (top) and this caveman on a beach in Barcelona (bottom). I gave my amazing novel to a physics professor to edit. He said he enjoyed the story very much and gave me some helpful feedback. I made a trip to the U of U physics department, where much of the story is set, and got some more helpful insight and background for my story. When I made all the edits and had my critique group look at it, I gave it back to the physics professor, who re-edited it and provided even MORE helpful feedback and suggestion. Done. It was done. And then. I had to write a query letter. Every writer knows about the dreaded query letter. Yes, we can write a 400-page novel. Yes, we can create believeable, loveable characters, complex plots and subplots. Yes, we can weave in elements of the Campbellian Monomyth. We can do all these things. But when it comes to writing a one-page query that not only effectively showcases the plot, characters and voice of the story, but the credentials of the author and a the reasearch said author did on whichever agent or editor he or she is querying, we choke. At least I choke. At least I feel like choking something.

In April of that year, I wrote a novel in 30 days. It was one of the most exhilarating things that's ever happened to me, like riding my bike down a hill at top speed--the wind whipping my hair wildly behind me. (The hair that's hanging out from under my helmet, that is.) With a premise based on an image from a dream I'd had a year or so earlier, I wrote the whirlwind novel, which I call Firedamp (see teaser image to the left that is (disclaimer) not mine).

Last November, I pulled Brynda Brandt out of mothballs and decided to revamp it for NaNoWriMo...well more like rewrite it from scratch. So I did. In 30 days, I rewrote it and it was much much better. But I'm still unsettled. Brynda Brandt is my white whale (or wide wail, depending on how frustrated I am).

I still have a pile of poems, sitting around being awesome. Some I adore, some I think are neat, and some are embarrassingly weird/lame. But I can't seem to get rid of any of them.

Below is another poem I'm fond of called Laetoli, Tanzania. As background, several sets of footprints were found in the aforementioned location that were dated to 3.6 million years ago and the earliest evidence of bipedal locomotion. There seemed to be evidence that a bigger pair of foosteps carried a tiny pair of nonfootsteps on one hip, and smaller pairs of footsteps trailed behind. Further research suggests that they were all the same size, crossing at different times, and the uneven gait was due to a bad leg, but it still spurred this poem.

Laetoli, Tanzania

More than three-and-a-half million years ago
she left her footprints in the ash,
fossilized, forgotten, found, and finally
studied with some kind of reliable science.

They think she bore the weight of a child on her hip—
while another…maybe two…trailed behind,
aping (but not apelike) her footfalls,
primitive and barely upright.

Kicking off from ancestors. Hobbling toward the future.

But they can’t calculate how much her shoulders stooped
as she stepped through the stifling heat,
or how hard her lungs spasmed—trying to cough out ash,
fleeing punctuated equilibrium.

And they haven’t yet hypothesized how many of her tears
joined the rain that made ash into mud—
the mud that preserved her heel-toe, heavy-hipped stride
as fodder for some article in Nature magazine.

After all the hours of observations—a plaster mold, a measurement—
and line after line of notes about half-life and bipedal locomotion,
she was just one more mother
skirting the edge of disaster.