The Maggie Nelson worship continues.

Simply put, in the meantime, I had become a brokenheart. As winter moved into spring, then into summer, I found myself losing the man I loved. I was falling, or had fallen, out of a story, the story of a love I wanted very much. Too much, probably. And the pain of the loss had deranged me.

Falling out of a story hurts. But it’s nothing compared to the loss of an actual person, the loss of all the bright details that make up that person. All the flashing, radiant fragments that constitute an affair, or a love. If there has been a betrayal, you may find yourself holding each of these fragments up to a new light and rotating them there, watching each one grow an unwanted shadow. I found myself there.

Maggie Nelson, The Red Parts. Autobiography of a Trial. p. 82



During this research I began to suffer from an affliction I came to call “murder mind.” I could work all day on my project with a certain distance, blithely looking up “bullet” or “skull” in my rhyming dictionary. But in bed at night I found a smattering of sickening images of violent acts ready and waiting for me. Reprisals of the violence done unto Jane, unto the other Michigan Murder girls, unto my loved ones, unto myself, and sometimes, most horribly, done by me. These images coursed through my mind at random intervals, but always with the slapping, prehensile force of the return of the repressed.

I persevered, mostly because I had been given an end-point: the publication date of Jane, on my thirty-second birthday, in March 2005. As soon as I held the book in my hand, I would be released. I would move on to projects that had nothing to do with murder. I would never look back.

Maggie Nelson on writing Jane. A Murder. in The Red Parts. Autobiography of a Trial.

Over the past year and a half, Maggie Nelson has gone from being a writer I only really knew as a poet (Something Bright, Then Holes) to one of my favourite people in writing; I love her for her honesty, the way she doesn’t seem to write in order to put herself or her subject on a pedestal but out of a compulsion to write out the many dimensions of her experiences. She writes and admits to being scared of what it means to write, and she does so with vulnerability and strength, in a way that makes me feel less alone in this odd world of storytelling.