That’s my view on the way to the Orange Line each morning. I’m not 100% on being here in Chicago, but I do know that it is affording me some great opportunities that I did not have. Writers trade on experiences. One of the reasons I got into journalism originally was that I wanted to draw a paycheck for writing (heh), but another was that I knew it would give me broad license to go places and meet people that others do not.
As a reporter I met governors and senators and the ragged and unwashed people so many of their policies fail to help. You might recall people sneering about Barack Obama having been a “community organizer” ; I actually met community organizers, still have some on speed-dial, and I see the kind of work they do. I’m less intensive a reporter now, since my freelance is limited to document-driven pieces in the interest of avoiding any conflict of interest in my current public sector job, but I do still find myself feeling the outsider-looking-in feeling that I’m pretty sure every writer feels.
In that regard, one thing about my time living in the various places I have – suburbia, ag-industrial-rural nowhere, urban South America, City of Big Shoulders, &c. – has been my fascination with in-between places. In places like that, we all feel like outsiders.
In-between places are all over the place, and what I’ve noticed in my writing is that I tend to linger at them. What is an in-between place? It is simply a place we pass through while going somewhere else. Even an airport is not truly an in-between place, because at some point, you think to yourself, “Now I am going to the airport,” and with in-between places, you never think that. Or at least, you normally don’t. I think it all the time now.
That header image up there is one of the more disgusting parts of my day lately – walking beneath that overpass. But I’m fascinated by it because it is its own little corner. There are things going on there that are not going on twenty feet in either direction.
Long September, my novel in the making, is fixated on that concept of the in-between place. As much as I have set it in downstate Illinois, feelings and ideas and themes for it have reared up no matter what part of the state or the country or the world I happen to be in, because there are always in-between places for me to find and ruminate upon.
I want to share one of the particularly creepy parts of the book: One of the first times Ian enters the worst in-between place of his life. Enjoy.
Download the .pdf | Things that must are not bad…