Leslie Kirk Campbell Recommends… in Poets & Writers
“I remember the dramatic moments that nearly stopped me as I wrote my first story collection. After a tough manuscript review with a top-notch editor, I dove, seemingly irretrievably, into deep despair. I lost belief in myself. I mean, it was bad. Days dragged into weeks, my desk uninhabited. Then one day, I went and sat in my garden, long my refuge. I breathed in the roses, looked for buds on the camelia, stood in awe of the yellow trumpet flowers. And somehow my heart clicked back into place. Faith, I discovered, resides in an even deeper place than belief. It is always there, even when I cannot see it.
That same year, despondent after an unexpectedly humiliating summer writing workshop in Massachusetts, I hopped on a Greyhound bus from New York to Idaho, imagining I was the nomadic character in the next story I planned to write. Viewing the world out my window as Lilith, jotting down images and brimming with ideas, my writing faith returned once more, and with it, just enough self-worth to allow me to carry on.
When I was younger, I used to light a candle and set it on my desk when I wrote, a kind of portal into that sacred space from which poetry and stories come. Now I know the candle burns inside me. And if it blows out—which it is bound to do—I have faith it will soon burn again.”
—Leslie Kirk Campbell, author of The Man With Eight Pairs of Legs (Sarabande Books, 2022)