Shoulder Season Writings


It’s been a busy winter, but I am so thrilled that spring is on the horizon. Here are a few essays of mine that are out in the world you may have missed.

In January, The Common published an essay on–of all things–sewer systems in sandy places. It’s called Effluent of the Affluent . I wanted to give you a little background into how this came to be, and how long publishing can sometimes take. I’d written another piece called Waste/Water that was a short three-part essay about my various experiences with, well, wastewater. A strange thing to write or think about, perhaps, but as someone who is interested in infrastructure and life at the end/edge of the world, it made sense.

I revised that story and it became another longer piece, also called Waste/Water. I submitted that in winter/spring 2022. I work on non fiction essays between longer manuscripts. I heard in October 2022 that the piece was accepted. A lot had happened between spring and fall last year, including the failure of one of the sewer systems I’d written about. I then did two short rounds of revisions with the editor, who was lovely. The resulting piece is one you read today.

At the time, when it was accepted, I felt like it was too weird to publish. I almost wanted to withdraw it. But acceptances are so hard-fought in this game that I did the hard thing of sitting with the piece and figuring out what I wanted to do to make it better. That is a lot of work for 1,000 words. It is a long time from submission to publication, and hopefully we are always improving as writers, so it can be strange to read something you wrote just ten months ago and think, “I know I can say that better.”

Strangely, after the piece was in its final form, but before it was published, a shipwreck was revealed at the south shore on Nantucket, right in front of the sewer treatment plant. That is the image that accompanies the essay.

You can still hear me the third Tuesday of each month on WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station on “A Cape Cod Notebook.”