“The business of words keeps me awake.” ~ Anne Sexton, from “The Ambition Bird”
Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and chilly, low 50’s.
Sitting here in a white sweater, yoga pants, and Christmas socks thinking back on the past week. It’s been a long and tiring one.
I did start my NaNoWriMo on Thursday, and have written on Thursday and Friday, but not yet today. This novel business is hard. I couldn’t get to sleep on Wednesday night because I was fretting over what I would write, which storyline I would chase. I came up with something and even came up with a working title, and of course, I didn’t write it down. Dammit, I was completely awake when I thought of it, so you would think that I could remember later, but noooooooo.
So far I’ve written about 1800 words, which isn’t really a lot. One of these posts can be almost that long, and I can fire that off in a few hours. I think that I’m overthinking it, editing as I go, which is not how you’re supposed to do it. I believe you’re not supposed to do any editing, just write, writing down to the bones, as it were.
I already fear that I won’t make it through the entire 30 days, and I’m only on day 3. How completely discouraging.
“I have written down the words
I have long not dared to speak.
Dully the head beats,
this body is not my own.” ~ Anna Akhmatova, from “Evening Room”
I think that what’s holding me up is that I have no clear direction, only an idea, and then as I get going, I want to stop and research this aspect or that aspect, which is not possible under these conditions. I don’t think that this is the best way to write; no. I know that this is not the best way, yet I am determined to try because for me, it’s the best impetus to actually get something down, something more than fleeting thoughts, plot lines, character names, working titles. It comes from that incredibly stubborn part of my personality, the one that refuses to let something or someone get the better of me.
It’s just like sewing Brett’s costume, which turned into almost a 20-hour production. Man, talk about painful—and not just in my hand. I had to use my mom’s sewing machine, so she kept wanting to help. It was impossible to make her understand that I wasn’t working from any clear pattern, only an idea if what he wanted. I worked the first day for seven and a half straight hours, only to come home and find that the sleeves were too tight for him. Crying seemed like a good option.
The next day, I approached it in a more linear fashion, and was pleased with the outcome, so I guess that should tell me something about this whole write a novel in a month idea, or not.
“The body is a book and we the words.” ~ Michael Bazzett, from “The Body”
I hear rumors of a storm that’s supposed to hit around Wednesday. I hope it stays away until after election day, that whole low voter turnout for Democrats in bad weather thing. All I know is that it’s getting downright cold at night, and there are still people without power, gas, and water in New York and New Jersey. Truly, I feel for them. It’s one thing to be without power during warmer months, but during cold ones, it really sucks. It wasn’t that long ago that we were heating our house with space heaters, and I could never get warm, no matter how many layers of clothes I wore.
So here I am blogging instead of working on the novel, and I have to tell you—it’s kind of a relief, just to write aimlessly, or rather with aim but without intention. Do you follow? I know. I’m being a bit confusing, but I’m confounded, truly.
Anyway, there was the sewing of the costume (which he did not wear to the convention, by the way, but that’s another story), the whole Halloween thing, during which I may have had a total of 20 kids, this after I went out and bought more candy so that I wouldn’t run out. Then Lex didn’t make it to my mom’s house with Olivia in her monster costume on Halloween, so the whole guilt trip thing, which we fixed by dressing her up again on Thursday and taking her over for a visit. So the week was filled with time with Mom, sewing (which I am not very talented in executing), telephone calls with the SSA people, and getting the news that my health insurance is going up next year.
Oh, and Corey will be home probably on Thursday, which is also making me antsy as I feel the need to clean, the need but not the ability. It will be so good to have him home finally, and he’ll be here until after the holidays. The two of us plan to take a mini vacation between Thanksgiving and Christmas, spend some quality time together. We so need a break.
“Our words should cauterize
all wounds to the truth.” ~ Chase Twichell, from “Vestibule”
Lately I have taken to using Alexis’s bathtub for hot soaks whenever I get a chance. The holes in our bathtub make long, hot baths a thing of the past, at least for now, and the water in her apartment is really hot. I’ve only done it a couple of times, but boy did my back thank me afterwards. I only bring this up because I’m sitting here now with one of those heat wraps around my neck.
Colder weather, a double-edged change: boots and sweaters versus aching joints and bones. On any given day my love of one is not enough to outweigh the pain of the other.
But getting back to the whole writing thing . . . In those 1800 or so words, someone has been murdered, someone has given birth, and someone has gotten bad news. I couldn’t give you a synopsis of the plot if I tried because it’s unfolding as I write it. I have a vague, very, very vague notion of who my protagonist is, what the conflict is, and where most of it takes place. Other than that, I just don’t know.
This is precisely why I need Corey to come home. He’s so wonderful to bounce ideas off, that, and he remembers everything, ideas I told him years ago. He doesn’t forget like I do, and I have this nagging sensation tugging at my brain that I’ve forgotten something really, really important about this particular story.
Man, I wish that I had a writing shed. Don’t ask me where that came from because I do not know. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
“The world is greater than its words. To speak of it the mind must bend.” ~ Wendell Berry, from Window Poems
Since I began this post, the sky has cleared, and the sun is out, making it a beautiful but cold day. Tillie the Lab is very restless as I haven’t been playing with her daily, and she feels neglected. Shakes is much the same, still wheezing, still having his coughing spells, but he has an appetite, and he still wants to go for car rides, so I take that as a good sign for now.
I’m really wondering how it got to be November, though. Where did the summer go? It was such a strange summer, so much of my time spent away from the house. Now to most of you, this isn’t a big deal, but remember, I have become a virtual hermit in recent years. Between the baby and Corey’s absence, I have been forced well beyond my comfort zone and back into the world. Some days I like it, and some I don’t. Some days, I still hate the world in all of its narrow-minded stupidity, and other days I feel such a keen sense of loss that life is not as it once was—so full of promise with far more days ahead than behind.
Don’t mind me. It’s one of those days, my thoughts carried of on so many different tides that I cannot possibly contain them or steer them. I’m not being morbid, but I do wonder when I reached my halfway point. I mean, think about it; it’s not something that we ever consciously know, is it? And it’s different for everyone. Someone asked me once if I wanted to live past 100, and I told them quite honestly no. I think that by that age life would be too impossibly heavy to hold, the weight of all the memories, all of the people come and gone, all of the loves and losses, all of the wars, all of the genocides, all of the social change.
So, no, I don’t want to live to be 100, but I suppose I could do 88. But then I remember P. D. James, who was born in 1920 and is still writing.
Hmm . . .
More later. Peace.
*Images by American painter Robert Henri, a leading figure in the Ashcan School in American painting. Of course, I migrated to his seascapes.
Music by Eddie Vedder with Natalie Maines, “You Can Close Your Eyes”
It is a good word, rolling off the tongue
no matter what language you were born with.
Use it. Learn where it begins,
the small alphabet of departure,
how long it takes to think of it,
then say it, then be heard.
Marry it. More than any golden ring,
it shines, it shines.
Wear it on every finger
till your hands dance,
touching everything easily,
letting everything, easily, go.
Strap it to your back like wings.
Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.
If you are known for anything,
let it be the way you rise out of sight
when your work is finished.
Think of things that linger: leaves,
cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.
Think of things that disappear.
Think of what you love best,
what brings tears into your eyes.
Something that said adios to you
before you knew what it meant
or how long it was for.
Explain little, the word explains itself.
Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,
like silence following sound.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye