Jan/Feb 2015 • Vol. XXXVII No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 2015 |

A Reverse Alphabet for Finishing

Zzeloypia "n. fantastical enthusiasm in advocating a cause, or carrying out an enterprise." (Webster's)* One of my earliest memories. I must have been three or, at most, four years old. There's a boy in our driveway. The boy is visiting with his father who stands on the gravel talking with my father. The boy must be about my age. I circle him, achingly. I want to give him something, as if giving him something will close the gap between us. I have nothing to give him except, in my pocket, a bobby pin. It's not enough to give him a bobby pin. I circle and circle the boy until he and his father leave and I am still circling with a shy, aching approximation of love: the way I feel as I attempt to finish writing this novel.   Y yaup "n. the blue titmouse; a cry of distress, as of one in pain: v.i. to gape, as a bird." The finality of the word finish: the gloss, the final polish that seals the work against intrusion. The term is vexed. I'm finished can mean completion and satisfac

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Lee Upton is the author of thirteen books including, most recently, The Tao of Humiliation: Stories (Spring 2014) and Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition, Boredom, Purity & Secrecy. She is the writer-in-residence and a professor of English at Lafayette College.

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