There isn't enough time. There's never enough time. But at the beginning of May I thought the whole month unfurled before us like an endless field of wildflowers waiting to be picked as we strolled lazily together beneath a benevolent sun. I had in my notebook a scribbled list of topics – 27! – that I was sure I'd get to, because there would be so much time. Look at all the wildflowers, I thought. Feel the caregiving sun! I would pick enormous, sumptuous bouquets and present them to you. I would post on weekends, I would post twice a day. It would be leisurely and satisfying. I would say everything I wanted to say.
But I never say everything I want to say. This is the great frustration of writing: there are too many words to use, too many images to describe, too many ideas to cram in, and I end up forgetting some number of them. It's like trying to stuff feathers in a bag: even when the bag seems full, there are feathers left decorating the air and the ground around you, feathers you could have stuffed into the bag.
My tenure as Writer-in-Residence ends today, the baton passed to June's scribbler (good luck!), so I won't get to everything. But one last bit of housekeeping remains: back on May 12, I posted an entry in honour of Short Story Month in which I listed fifty worthy fiction collections. I took pains to state that the list bore no claim of supreme authority, that it was not complete nor definitive, but that it was merely a sampler, a decent teaser, a pretty good though very cursory survey of the form. Nevertheless I have spent the days and nights since in agonizing self-doubt, wracked with regret, thinking of all those left off, mentally amending and lengthening the list, so that it might very soon swell to one hundred, or more. But for the sake of argument, let's add the following five titles to the Woefully Incomplete But Pretty Good Anyway List of Short Story Collections You Might Check Out:
Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories
Thomas McGuane, To Skin a Cat
David Means, The Spot
Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush
Jessica Westhead, And Also Sharks
So that will do it. Sincere thanks to the folks at the Open Book Foundation, to those who've read some of these posts, and to everyone who reached out. It's been quite a month.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Andrew Forbes’s work has been nominated for the Journey Prize, and has appeared in The Feathertale Review, Found Press, PRISM International, The New Quarterly, Scrivener Creative Review, This Magazine, Hobart, The Puritan, All Lit Up, The Classical, and Vice Sports. He is the author of What You Need, a collection of fiction, and The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario.