As 2021 closes out, I thought I’d informally update those who are interested in my work on what I’m up to. I’ve written a lot of short fiction in 2021–a story draft per month, actually. Some were keepers, some not. Now I am slowly revising. 2022 will be a year of deep revision, if I can summon the discipline. I have a tendency to move on to the shiny new idea and leave a third or fourth draft to die. It takes reading biographies of writers I admire to wake me up to reality of extensive revision required to make work that lasts.
I’ve also been writing essays. One of those will be coming out shortly with the Los Angeles Review of Books, and I’ll be sure to post it here. (You can see all my short fiction and nonfiction on this page: http://rachelhoward.com/short-fiction-and-nonfiction/.) I also love to publish with the brilliant people at Berfrois, and I’ve had a few essays there in 2021.
The big change in my writing life has been returning to dance criticism. The pandemic was a strange opportunity for me. Because the Bay Area housing market pushed me out in 2014, I currently live three hours from San Francisco. (I hope to change that and move closer again by 2023). Nevertheless, I’d been reviewing occasionally for the SF Chronicle and for the miraculous Fjord Review, a marvelous collection of international voices that fortunately ascended just as Ballet Review ended its long and important run. When the pandemic hit, of course, all dance programming went online–and suddenly I was able to watch so much, and catch up with artists I loved, via digital streams and Zoom interviews. This combined with the death of my mentor, longtime Examiner and Chronicle critic Allan Ulrich, made me feel the old stirrings to bear witness and create space for dialogue about the ever-shifting, ever-stirring and thought-provoking activities of the Bay Area dance scene.
So I have been doing what I could in 2021, though limited in my ability to travel to shows because of family duties here in Grass Valley/Nevada City. And I will continue to do so in 2022. Sometimes I am not adequate to the task, as in this review of GERALDCASELDANCE’s “Not About Race Dance.” Still, I will see what I can and I will do my best, while continuing to write essays and fiction. The Bay Area dance scene is too stimulating to ignore. That is my resolution for 2022–to continue my own artistic practice as a writer while honoring the art of Bay Area dancers and dancemakers as much as possible.
I am also continuing to teach creative writing at Stanford Continuing Studies and am very grateful for the wonderful students and the supportive employment there.