I love M.I.A.

She didn’t win a Grammy last night for Paper Planes (She should’ve won! They robbed her!) but she is seriously my idol now, after performing on stage in a sheer dress, 9 months pregnant, on her DUE DATE.

On my due date, hours before I went into labor, I went to a party for the literary magazine One Story. The party was only three blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn, but it took me forty minutes to walk there. I hobbled like a 107-year-old man, pausing on various stoops to sit, trying to muster the energy to stand up again. I wasn’t wearing a sheer dress. (Although when I did go into labor, my doctor said, “Do something relaxing” until the labor advanced, so between contractions I spent hours doing my hair, makeup, and nails, in between bouts of kneeling on the floor—back labor! good times!—and trying not to faint or die. I painted flowers on my toenails and they were quite nice to look at during the days I was laid up in bed after the C-section, staring at the weird life-preserver-things they put on your legs to prevent your blood from clotting.)

When I finally held my daughter in my arms, I cried for a long time…I’d dreamed of holding her for so long, and kissing her, and finally to be able to was the most amazing feeling in the world.

I hope M.I.A. has a nice, quick birth…and if she does have a C-section, then I hope she enjoys all that morphine! It’s good stuff.


I’m off to the AWP conference in Chicago on Wednesday—if you’ve never been to AWP, imagine thousands of writers converging on a hotel to discuss various publishing traumas/literary theories/writer gossip. It’s partly horrifying, partly fun. The best part of all is seeing friends, both old and new–lots of people from both Bread Loaf and Sewanee will be there, and I can’t wait to see them again.

I’m on a panel called “Keeping the Faith,” with Allison Amend, Dika Lam, Lara JK Wilson, Sheri Joseph, and Pinckney Benedict, at 3pm on Saturday, February 14th (Valentine’s Day!) at the Hilton. Here’s the description:

Novels and short story collections take a while—or even longer. If you’re not Jack Kerouac or independently wealthy, how do you sustain the momentum of a project when life, financial pressures, and family get in the way? What can you do with an aging novel that needs a good home? At what point does your present-day narrative become historical fiction? This panel explores specific strategies we’ve used to stay excited about projects a decade or more in the making.

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