Here’s What’s Happening!
An update on all things writing:
My fourth book, Elegy for a Star Girl, is set to release in early June with Swimming with Elephants Press! I am really excited about this collection. It is worlds apart from anything I have written in the past and I think it’s a good indication of where the muse will lead me through the cornfield mazes of the rural papertowns that are my writing processes.
I’ve talked in the past about kind of growing up with the narrative/s of my books. To date, the poems have followed the same characters. These folks were largely written in the likeness of people I knew; the places they roamed for the small collection of towns in New Haven County where I grew up.
But now, I have aged them, and while there are stories to be told about adulting, those stories are largely uninteresting (at least in the way that I have intended to write them thus far. I’m working on it).
From this phenomenon came this book, borne from an adult interest. I think it rings true to my style (if I have a style) but it is wholly refreshing. Where before I was representing a world, now I am imagining a new one. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
2. Book release party!
The best part of releasing a new book is the potential for a book launch! I have dropped the ball on this in the past, but I am committed this time. Mark June 17th on your calendars if you’re in the New Haven area. I haven’t squared away the locale, or any important details for that matter, but will report soon.
3. Other types of writing.
Spring 2017 also marks my venture into self-employment. I am a teacher by trade, and have no intention on giving that up just yet. I have too much angst about education in America and there is too much good work to be done before that happens.
That being said, I have supplemented my income on and off throughout the years with tutoring. I’d like to pay off my college loans before I’m 50, so I thought this time around I’d do more than just put my name in with the guidance department.
I also saw my newfound gusto (and if we’re being honest, a sudden bump in my social media presence) as an opportunity to leverage myself as a freelance writer. I have an older brother who worked for a while in marketing, and now sits in a big chair in a big office at a media company. It is fairly likely that he has a stand up desk in an open concept office, us being millenials and this being 2017, but that is beside the point. For years he has told me that I needed to explore freelancing, but I was stubborn. I wanted to write what I wanted to write on my terms and not worry about much else when it came to the craft.
As I write this, I feel a bit like a sell out, like I have given up on those sensibilities, but the less reactive part of me realizes that that is silly and knows that when you know how to do something you should do that something and help other people do that something. I think that’s what this comes down to. I see freelancing and tutoring as a catalyst to an eventual workshop series.
I feel strongly about the lack of opportunity for aspiring writers to workshop outside of expensive MFA programs. I am an MFA grad. I recognize the value of a formal program. But I’m also a young adult with a ton of higher education debt who sees the writing on the wall; that this whole 60k a year bubble is going to burst. And then where are all the liberal arts majors going to hang out?
Right now I am working with two writers. One is a women nearing the end of her career who has an interesting life story to tell. She has chosen to do so in a series of what can be best described as flash pieces. Each is set in a different significant moment and in that way each is a standalone piece but also adds to the narrative of the whole work. This is something that I’ve tried to do for years with poetry, and mostly failed, making it difficult for me to publish individual pieces. I am really impressed at this hybrid genre she has created, but more importantly, the story has my attention, which is really the underlying challenge in writing anything.
The second writer I am working with is a New Jersey high school student who is significantly smarter than me. We just started working on a short story together, and my biggest pushes have been around plot decisions. Like any new writer, she tends to lean towards what she knows from what she has read or watched in the past. This is positive in the sense that her instincts towards narrative structure are solid, but it also opens doors to rooms wallpapered in cliches. I have accepted my role as the devil on her other shoulder pushing her to make the unpopular choice. Or maybe that is the angel’s role? One can never be sure these days.
I think that’s all for now. As always, much love to the readers.
Christopher Grillo is the author of Heroes’ Tunnel (Anaphora Literary Press, 2015). His poems appear in Drunk Monkeys, Sport Literate, Biline, Spry, Aethlon, and more. Grillo is a graduate of the University of New Haven where he played strong safety for the Chargers, and of Southern Connecticut State University’s MFA program. He lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut as an 8th grade language arts teacher and moonlights as an assistant football coach at his high school alma mater.