Probably, a day will come when I don’t announce every new publication with a mini-essay on process but today isn’t that day. I’m proud and grateful to have my first microfiction appear in a press I just learned of and already love: 3 Micro-stories by Di Jayawickrema in Burning House Press.
There were eight years between my first publication and my second. I spent that period contending with the immigration system, and the process changed me in ways I still don’t fully understand. I didn’t write a creative word in those eight years. I do some community-based work around immigration now — in my view, immigration is a death spectrum — from actual death to death by countless cuts if you’re lucky, and I was lucky. It isn’t a coincidence that I only started writing again when I got my green card.
I’ve been writing again for six years now. This period of regrowing my writing process has hurt in every way. Before my eight-year hiatus, writing had been easy and fluid (part of that was being younger and more oblivious than I am now but I didn’t know that at first). In this six-year period, I’ve mostly written in fits and spurts, and have often been bewildered by what came out. My writing used to be rounded and lengthy. Everything I write now feels jagged, non-linear, spare — and often incomplete. For awhile, I believed the eight years in-between had shattered my creative brain. In a way, it had. I had to learn (am still learning) how the change in my writing process is tied to my immigration process. I learned (am learning) how flash fiction, prose poetry, and hybrid genres can better tell diasporic stories. I’m still finding new writing paths, and cutting my own byways through them. There were three years between my second and third publication.
There was a week between my fourth publication and my latest. I’m not naive enough to think I’m at the end of a difficult writing period but it does feel like a beginning. I’m beginning to know why I write the way I do now, how to write it in ways that work, and most importantly, who I’m writing for. I submitted my micros on a whim because I saw the Burning House Press call on Twitter for an issue on INCOMPLETENESS, because BHP embodies everything I’ve come to believe in, because experimental artists and radical thinkers I’ve been studying since I started writing again were published in the same issue. To be honest, I’m scared my work hasn’t earned its place in this company but it is here. And it is the first work I’ve published where I’m confident of every writing choice I make, where I deliberately approach places that hurt. Today, that feels good enough — complete enough. The BHP About section reads: “Burning House Press remembers the path to the water-well, as well as the way to the ward, and we sing them both.” I hear this as a call and a promise I’m beginning to live. Read the whole incredible INCOMPLETENESS issue edited by Petero Kalulé here.