Sometimes as a writer, you publish something super special, something you’re really excited about, and then the publication goes nowhere. Things happen. Life moves fast. And unfortunately sometimes people even pass on during the publication process.
I’ve always loved Crab Orchard Review. Beautiful, sophisticated, with some of my favorite writers gracing its pages (print at one point, mostly online later). So it was a great, great honor to be included in the magazine’s special food issue.
Then, tragically, the managing editor died. His death sent ripples through the writing community, as John Tribble was always known as a kind and supportive editor. He was certainly friendly and supportive in his emails to me as he prepared to publish one of my all-time favorite essays, “Goodness,” which I wrote during a workshop with my all-time favorite writer, Bernard Cooper.
(Bernard wrote “Wow” in the margins of my manuscript, which now rests in a drawer in my writing room. I will keep those pages forever.)
This piece is about church, about growing up in a paper mill town, and about wanting to be seen as “good.” What does it mean to be good? Where do you find your value? Is it in the clothes you wear or the foods you eat? Do you find it in the Bible, in the eyes of God, or do you find it in the eyes of the people who love you, who think you are good even when you’re bad?
I’m posting a link to the story here in my blog so that you can read it but also so that I can find it more easily. Scroll to page 134 to one of my favorite essays of all time, “Goodness.”