Like many writers, much of my writing process takes place off the page. When the events in this essay occurred in April 2021, a friend immediately suggested that I write about them. I demurred. I was too embarrassed and too exhausted. When I finally considered writing about being stuck in a lakebed, ideas and phrases ricocheted about my head for weeks before I started typing. The draft went through two or three revisions, many fewer than usual because I had already composed so much of this flash piece before I sat down at the computer screen. The completed essay only had one other reader—my great writing partner Erin Lamb—before I submitted it to the Gordon Square Review. I didn’t know if what I had written would resonate with a broader set of readers.
Thus, working with Nardine in the mentorship was a wonderful experience because she helped me to see “Stuck” from a new perspective. This step in the process also took place off the page—in a Zoom meeting where we talked collaboratively about key details of the essay. In particular, Nardine suggested cutting a sentence that I had been attached to, a sentence that explicitly set up the essay’s central metaphor. However, Nardine reassured me that the essay worked without it. After thinking about it, I realized that Nardine was right, that I could trust my readers to see the connections that I was making. That sentence is not in the final draft—thanks to my collaboration with Nardine—and the essay is significantly better for the change.
Kirsten L. Parkinson
Kirsten L. Parkinson is a professor of English and director of the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature at Hiram College in Ohio. Her creative and scholarly work has appeared in Arcturus, Nimrod International Journal, Broad Street, Confrontation, Literature/Film Quarterly, Dickens Quarterly, and Midwestern Folklore. When she is not teaching or writing, she is reading or baking. She lives with her husband, daughter, and cat in the Cleveland area.