All of us mad scribblers, we chafe against one another, hustling, jostling for place, while others remove themselves from the fray. Envy always bites just a little...
Posts from the ‘Fiction’ Category
There is a fat green frog living in the garden, near the hostas. He kept utterly still as I called a neighbor to see. This corner of the garden must be charmed, for it was here I went eye to eye with a hummingbird. Has he been feasting on mosquitoes? I hope so. He looks so luxurious, so fat.
I trekked back to Sag Harbor, where I once had a home, to teach a workshop on imaginary geographies. The landscape flying past my train windows was very much real, a study in contrasts of lush marsh grass hosting a heron or two, to the power plants in the horizon. It was a new train in the LIRR fleet, and all was smooth, easy-going.
At Bridgehampton, I was picked up by a workshop participant, one of six lively women who gathered to write for four hours. In a close circle, we wrote through exercises about the place and self, beginning with settings of familiarity to those of the imagination. After a delicious lunch provided by the host bookstore, Canio’s, we drew imaginary cities and villages on portions of a map of Paris. One by one, the participants revealed their public markets, their factories, their slaughterhouses, and cafes.
We discussed using setting like character, using setting as plot. We spoke of how characters move through settings, and I wonder now if I mentioned that while in real life, what happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, in fiction, it cannot.
Three days later, I sit at a cafe in the seaport in Boston, where I can glimpse planes taking off, their underbellies gleaming like whales. Melville mentioned Sag Harbor in Moby Dick, a port of trade and business. Here, all is tourism and relaxation, as the temperature climbs toward 95 F, and I wait for a ferry to take me home.
Should we have traveled or stayed at home? In the film, Reaching for the Moon, Elizabeth Bishop walks with Robert Lowell, struggling to compose “The Art of Losing.” Only by traveling into the interior, of a country and her heart, can she complete the poem.
There is a fierce need to complete poems, to complete acts of arts, and to travel, if only to return home, more capable of understanding ourselves and others.
As I look over my blog posts, I realize I have posted about events, and cartons, and what’s coming up, but I have not really spoken of what it feels like to have a book published.
It feels good.
There were many, many revisions that were worked over. There are notes I’d write about possible ways the book could go.
I want to tell you about the book. I want to tell you how it feels in my hands, the subtle texture of the cover, the deckled pages, the soft cream thick pages.
My scribblings started in 2001,or maybe 2002, while living in Sag Harbor, NY. I had an apartment in a house on Richard’s Drive, in an area described in this wonderful book. In the midst of a long tortuous tale of a woman on the precipe of her fortieth year, wondering about marriage, about death, I wrote, “Mina’s aunt Meterling was amazing.” In four lines, I described Meterling’s wedding, and continued write about Mina.
After watching rock climbers on extreme sportsTV, I wanted to change my life, transform it. So I visited Boulder, CO, and wound up moving there in 2004. I never learned to rock climb, or bike, swim, or run. I discovered a form of yoga I loved, taught in a number of universities, and after a low,angry period which needs its own blog post, I emerged with a book. For three years, I wrote and revised, and then was faced with the need to move for work. My book had been submitted but no word on its future. I packed up my life in Boulder, my seven-year love affair with a town and its people, and moved to the place where I am now, Provincetown. One month before I arrived, the book was accepted.
I exchanged hundreds of emails with my editor, and combed through three copyedited versions, each time feeling happy I had something tangible to do. I attended webinars on media presentations, googled variations of “what to expect when expecting a book,” and waited. The cover arrived. Hurrah for Christopher Silas Neal and Carol Devine Carson! A decision had to be made about which butterfly to let flitter in the pages. (I get butterflies!) Did I like the typeset used to mark the first letter of each chapter?I did.
The bound galleys arrived. A list had to drawn of people to send the book to, in case they wanted to read and comment. A copy of the actual book arrived. The heft of the thing, the feel of it.
A crate of books arrived. I had to vacuum, I had to do the laundry, the dishes. It was publication day, and I was by myself. But Friday, there was a party, and a reading in a few days. My new students are happy at my news of a book, and my old students call to congratulate. There is suddenly more to do, even as the car battery fails, as a snowstorm if followed by another.
Today I heard a woodpecker that drove me outside to see if I could spot it. I opened the screened door and heard birdsopng in what seems like such a long time. I am sick with a cold, but my book is somewhere on a bookstore shelf. I will get my first glimpse on Tuesday night. This really is a dream come true.