When I wrote my debut story collection, Good Women, I had moments where I ran into walls of uncertainty and froze. At these roadblocks, perfectionism began to guide me rather than intuition or craft. I balked. I felt pressure to search for something missing, something extraordinary. Write bigger, I thought. But whenever this happens, I know I need to, in fact, write smaller. I’ve got to get specific to remember my intention, to remember what I value creatively: witnessing the ordinary. The missed belt loop, the body smell of Jergens on my grandmother, the emerald of beetle wings crushed on the sidewalk. In a world where excess is rewarded, smallness is an act of rebellion.
In her poem “Little Things,” Sharon Olds reminds the reader to pay attention: “I am doing something I learned early to do / I am paying attention to small beauties.” Small is no pejorative. Small is beautiful. What we dismiss as small (personally, politically, racially, socially) holds potency. Good Women finally opened up for me when I turned towards smallness, when I trusted that one moment could be endlessly enough. In that space, each story found its thread of connection, its pace, its shaping, its unraveling. To write well, I must resist bigger, better, and faster. When I trust in the economy of small things I know I’m back on the path, writing towards something meaningful.
—Halle Hill, author of Good Women (Hub City Press, 2023)