Since this past spring, so much has happened, it's kind of extraordinary. And the fruits of two large endeavors are emerging right now. It's like the buses that all arrive at the same time after a very long wait.
Most surprising was Liquid Cat Books wanting to publish my hybrid collection,THE MORTALITY SHOT, containing stories, essays and my stage text Respiration or you have to unmute yourself, all written in the past four years, and focused directly or indirectly on mortality, first of a number of loved ones who passed away in fairly rapid succession and then on my own mortality when got hit with COVID and long-haul COVID that landed me in the hospital. My own fragility was made clear, as life's fragility in general already had been. This experience focuses the mind and heart.
What I am particularly happy with about this collection is that it includes many different genres of my writing and different voices. As I am collecting up all these parts of myself for my memoir, this book seems in some way an important step in that direction, so I do hope you will consider purchasing it. Some of the stories and essays have already appeared in Prairie Schooner, [PANK], Heavy Feather Review, Burning House Press and my story White shoe lady, as many of you know, was published as a chapbook by Nomadic Press as the winner of their Bindle contest. And now all these works and another essay and stage text are all in one place!
While I did teach yoga into May, all the work to put this book together and then the commission from Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann ofRadio Art Zone to createShadow/Text a 22-hour radio show (!) comprising all of my stage texts for the past 22 years along (includingRespairation) with composer, vocalist, and sound artist Viv Corringham ended up swallowing all of my time. However, I have discover the joys of doing short 20-30 minute cardio bursts with Jane Fonda, along with my usual yoga and qigong practice, so I am in pretty good shape actually.
But I wanted to let you know you can now pre-order THE MORTALITY SHOT (and I hope you do!) To read a lot of wonderful things some extravagantly talented authors have had to say about the book, you can visit THE MORTALITY SHOT page on my site. Some of these blurbs reduced me to tears, because I have never heard such kind words about my writing from authors I admire, and like every other writer I know, I am terminally insecure. So this is the most unexpected joy of this process, and I honestly can't wait to hear from you all after you have read this collection. The collection also includes a foreword by the inimitable Adam McGovern, a careful reader and critic, whose opinion I have sought numerous times since he first reviewed one of my plays in 2014.
I invite you to tune intoShadow/Text any time from September 20-21, beginning Tuesday, 2pm Central European Time (8am Eastern time) to Wednesday 12 noon CET (6am Eastern time)to hear this project that Viv and I recorded through the spring and summer in parks and on Zoom, in the same room and across continents. And Viv edited all of this, which...was a lot. I hope you can tune in at some point to hear what we did! Respairation (which is in THE MORTALITY SHOT) was recorded with a group of actors that represent my theater life from the 1980s up to now, including Zoe Bouras, Julia Brothers, Renee Bucciarelli, Marietta Hedges, and Jacqueline Springfield. If you are an early morning or late night person you might catch it around 3:30am Eastern time or 8:30am in UK, 9:30 am in Central Europe! The rest is Viv and me or us individually working through the texts in various ways. It was quite moving to go through my writing from 1998 to now. A truly comprehensive retrospective. And it should be archived once the whole festival (100 days of 22 hour radio shows) is over, so if you miss some of it, you should be able to hear it again. However, do tune in on the day, if you can.
When I have not been working on all of this, I have been writing my memoir about discovering I was autistic at age 56 after an intensive yoga training. It is going well, and I am letting it tell me the shape it wants to take as I gradually allow myself to unmask after decades of trying to appear and sound a certain way to fit into the neurotypical world. Interestingly, I realized while recording all my plays for Shadow/Text, my most unmasked voice has been in my stage texts. I never have known where they came from, and now I think I do. A part of myself I had unconsciously exiled demanding to be heard. I don't know when I will try to take this version of the memoir to market, but I am glad to be allowing this slower pace, because I am learning as I go how I am processing this, and I want to create something that can speak to many others, not only on this specific journey of very late diagnosed autism, but for anyone who discovers deep-seated, perhaps hidden parts of themselves and what a total RELIEF it can be, even if there is grieving for an old sense of self and what could have been if one was allowed to live as oneself for one's whole life.
As for the Inwood writing workshops, right now they are full, but there may be some workshop spaces down the line, and in the meantime, if you want individual coaching or a manuscript review, give me a shout. I recorded the last two series' of yoga classes I taught, which activates the ventral vagus nerve and smoothes out the nervous system. This has been key to my healing from long haul COVID and many people in the class have told me it has helped them with their chronic conditions, too. If interested in checking this out, get in touch, because I can send the recordings. Not sure when I will be teaching live classes again, because there is A Lot happening. And those classes will form the basis of any future teaching, so will ask anyone I teach in future to go through that series.
And in the meantime, did I mention I have book out?!
(Embarrassing true fact: having one's book on pre-order is a little like being a kindergartener sending out birthday invites and hoping someone will show up...so if you think you want to read the book,please do consider preordering! It helps the publisher gage interest and know how many books to print, so it makes a difference! Also, you will get the first copies of the book to go out the door and beat out all this regular orderers...you can say you ordered it before it was cool. And if you are asking yourself, why should I buy this book, consider listening to some of the radio showand hear some of my stage texts, one of which is in the book or check out my previous publications online.)
Finally, for those of you who have been supporting me for like a while: If you pledged back in 2014 to the Indiegogo to help me draft The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani and requested a copy of the book when it was published, and would prefer to receive a copy of THE MORTALITY SHOT in lieu of (since I don't know yet when Dick & Jani will be published), please tell me, and I will have a copy sent to you.