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.