Chelsey Clammer on the origins of her nonfiction piece “Infestation”

I wrote this piece as I was just moving into a small mountain town in order to concentrate on writing. The town—which has now turned into a casino town—is a place I have visited since I was a child. I have never known the history of it, and so as I started to do some research on it, I noticed how the people had come here, used up its resources, and left. During my research, I had a fly infestation in my house. I drew the parallels between the infestation of people into Cripple Creek, and the way the flies were permeating my house. I also needed to write something about the flies in order to get my frustration about them out of me, as well as my frustration about how this cute mountain town has turned into a sad, run-down place full of casinos. These two facts started to weave together in my brain, and so I got them out on the page.

I decided to use a more meditative form for the essay in order to resemble the silent space in which my house is situated. The mountain town is very secluded, and so I did not want to use busy language. Surprisingly, I was able to concentrate on the language, because there were so many distractions around me with the flies and all. I am better at writing when I really have to focus, when I have to tune out the rest of the world in order to write. So the flies, in a way, helped me to write this piece. And while I do not want to say I am grateful to the infestation, I am.

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Chelsey Clammer received her MA in Women’s Studies from Loyola University Chicago. She has been published in THISStone HighwayAtticus ReviewSleet and Make/shift among many others. She received the Nonfiction Editor’s Pick Award 2012 from both Revolution House and Cobalt for her essays “BodyHome” and “I Have Been Thinking About,” respectively. She is currently finishing up a collection of essays about finding the concept of home in the body. You can read more of her writing at: