Like many artists (and, let’s face it, people) right now, I have had trouble accessing my creativity during the chaos, anxiety, fear, and loneliness of a COVID world. Writer’s block isn’t exactly a new experience for me, but many of my previous strategies for addressing it (such as browsing the shelves of libraries or reorganizing my sock drawer) aren’t working quite as well as they once did. I’m a fiction writer primarily, and though it might seem that escaping to a fictional world might be exactly what a girl could use right now, I’m not able to forget our reality.
So for this project, I decided to embrace it. Inspired by the lovely micro-memoir collection Heating & Cooling by rock star poet and my friend/mentor Beth Ann Fennelly, I’ve been writing micro-memoirs focusing on specific moments of my quarantining experience as a way to process this season. The concision of this genre pushes me to avoid the desire to reach profound conclusions on experiences that I simply lack the perspective right now to reach. I don’t know what to make of these moments yet, in other words. (Maybe I never will.) These pieces reflect moments I can’t forget, which, for now, is all I have.
I’m a novelist fundamentally, so shorter, sparer pieces aren’t always my jam. But in the spirit of taking on what scares me (or, at least, what used to scare me, before I knew this new kind of fear), I’m embracing the idea of limitations as well by designing these micro-memoirs as Instagram Stories, a medium that constrains both length and availability (though they are presented here as part of a connected video).
As a final point, I want to acknowledge that the nature of memoir leads me to focus on my own experiences, which are (as will be evident) formed by many privileges. I am blessed in these privileges—a fact that is clearer now than ever—and do not want to ignore their lack of universality or neglect to recognize that, while we are all struggling, our struggles are not all the same.
About the Artist
Anne Corbitt received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Mississippi on the John and Renée Grisham Fellowship. Her work has appeared in One Story, The Greensboro Review, Fifth Wednesday, Fourth River, and others. She lives in Atlanta, where she created and wrote the interactive mystery series ATL Mysteries, and teaches writing at Kennesaw State University, Emory University, and the Etowah Valley Low Residency MFA program. Her first novel, Rules for Lying, was released by Southeast Missouri State University Press in 2016, as the winner of the Nilsen Literary Prize, and was the finalist for the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Award for a First Novel.