Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Prison Food, Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work


Regan Hofman is right about a lot of things, including writing.

I am in the midst of a challenging and complex writing project.  I think about it when I am running.  I dream about it when I sleep.  The analogy is not one of a dark, lonely road with no end, but instead a thick jungle, a mass of tightly woven ideas that needs to be pulled apart and reorganized.

When we were growing up, our best birthday party treat was the Spider Web.  Do you remember this one? A toy is tied to the end of a string and hidden behind a chair or on top of a dresser.  Then the string is woven through the room - over sofas, through plants, under tables - until it reaches the door. When it is time for the game to begin, every child holds the end of the string at the doorway, and then follows it - under, over, through - until the prize is found.  Sometimes, if the color of the string is particularly pronounced or the weaver particularly uninspired, you can see where it ends and almost make out the prize.  But it is most fun when you don't know exactly where you were heading, only that there is something exciting at the end.

Indeed this is not a job for a machete.  If I were to just cut wildly, a path would be cleared but the branches would not be connected to their roots.  So this is a task of slowly untangling  - under, over, through - until a few of the long vines that run all the way through the jungle are lying neatly in pile.  Or something like that.

There are 10 chapters. Watch the sidebar for progress.  We're getting there.