MEET THE AUTHORJENNIFER ANDERSON
I began writing “The Trailer” shortly aftermy interaction with the homeless womanon my family’s property as an attempt tounderstand not only what happened butwhy. Searching, I suppose, for resolution, Iwanted to explore the role I played in thewoman’s situation after I reported her trespassing. This is something I’m still grappling with. I don’t know the answers. All Iknow is that this essay came about quicklyfor me, taking under three months to finish, whereas I tend to write ata snail’s pace, sometimes working on a piece for years before I share itwith even my close reading partners. I wrote it sequentially, at first because it was simply the most efficient way to get the story out. I intendedto rearrange everything in revision; however, it became clear that theessay’s chronological order made the most sense, given that it illustrateshow seemingly minor social problems (an abandoned trailer) don’t disappear if left unaddressed, how they continue to grow and can havecomplicated, far-reaching consequences.
As is the case with many nonfiction narratives, “The Trailer” isn’treally over by the end. There is no resolution. Even now, nearly a yearlater, I sometimes see the woman walking around town—if not her, thensomeone in a situation similar to hers—a constant reminder of the essay’s central question: What is our responsibility to others?
Jennifer Anderson is an assistant professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, where she is the faculty adviser for the college’sstudent-run literary journal, Talking River Review. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the Colorado Review, the Cimarron Review, andBrevity, among other places. She also makes documentaries with herhusband, Vernon Lott. Their most recent film, The Act of Becoming, focuses on John Williams’s 1965 novel, Stoner.