Janice Obuchowski Recommends...

When writing, I can get lost in my thoughts, which feels metaphorically like darkness: I can’t see my way forward; I feel hemmed in. Most often, my answer is to get outside. I need the counterbalance of movement, light, open air. I live on the outskirts of a little New England college town, a place with few houses and many trees. The Green Mountains, thick with pines, are omnipresent in the east. I go running and something in me quiets. I might be considering yellowing maple leaves when an idea about my fiction comes into focus—a bit of inner illumination to put me back on the path.

This woodsy place, which abuts national forest, always feels at the edge of the bucolic. It both thrills and unnerves me. In large part my story collection, The Woods, concerns my allegorical sense of the landscape—its different symbolic valences, by turns idyllic, vast, rough, indifferent, magnificent. Today it was seeing the mountains: stark, edging toward violet in the distance, yet also appearing to loom over my neighborhood. The old farmhouses seemed sweetly quaint but simple and small, and I felt the lurking tensions of the sublime in its old-fashioned sense. Being in the presence of something mysterious, beautiful: this makes me want to write.
—Janice Obuchowski, author of The Woods (University of Iowa Press, 2022)  

Photo credit: Andy Duback