Postcards from the Edge

A World Series, a one-eyed shih-tzu, and a giveaway

They did it. The Nats really did it. As you might have heard, DC’s underdog baseball team won the 2019 World Series. I couldn’t take the anxiety of watching all 9 innings, so I tuned in for the last crucial three.

Hollering at the TV while my team wins is not a familiar feeling for me. I liked it. I could get used to that feeling. Right now I am just grateful my beleaguered hometown has something to cheer about.

Here’s Irene the one-eyed shih tzu with the Washington Post’s banner headline:

Irene looks like a hot mess in that photo. She’s pretty much a hot mess all the time: can’t climb stairs (a mental block, the vet thinks, not a physical issue), barks at every opportunity (in a noisy city neighborhood, she finds a lot of opportunities), chases the cats, bites our toes. Some people—even me, once in a while—still think she’s cute. At least she’s a Nats fan.

Today, All Hallows’ Day, marks the fifth anniversary of the day Irene came to live with us. She’s not the dog we would have chosen; we’re more a soulful-eyed-hound family. But Irene belonged to my mother, and had nowhere else to go when Mom could no longer live on her own.

I write more about that in my book—about how my mother’s descent into extreme clutter drove me to try to understand the phenomenon better. It’s been painful, and eye-opening, and ultimately healing to write about. A lot of people have shared with me stories of their own families’ struggles, and I’m grateful for those conversations. I’m not writing a how-to book (I can suggest some good ones if you want recs), but I hope what I’ve learned will help ease the collective generational struggle a bit.

Want a personalized postcard? I cleaned up my desk recently (research!), and found a stash of postcards from various trips. If you’d like one, drop me a note with a mailing address (I will not share it), and I’ll send you a card with one of my favorite sayings about clutter.

This week’s links, below the picture, all have a reading/writing theme. (Wise words for writers, Epictetus.)

1) From Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: When it comes to writing “the other,” what questions are we not asking? (H/t Mark Trainer)

2) It’s NaNoWriMo! Plot being pesky? Mystery writer Charles Finch reveals how to write a great mystery plot. (H/t Francine Mathews a k a Stephanie Barron, author of a successful Jane Austen mystery series)

3) Once you finish that novel, ace literary agent and YA author Eric Smith has tips on how to pitch to agents.

4) How not to handle a successful media property and its writers.

5) What words were first recorded in the dictionary the year you were born? (Dibs on “space walk.”)

If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it with a friend. And if you feel like it, you can now buy me a coffee and help keep the caffeinated writing train going.

Thanks for reading!