Tuesday, November 17, 2009

november sunlight

The laundry chugs and the dishwasher steams. I washed two skeins of handspun yarn, and “finishing” the yarn requires slapping the wet skeins against the deck railing, twenty or thirty lashings. The neighbor glances at me curiously, then remembers: I slap wet yarn against the deck railing from time to time. Somehow two rows of muddy shoes have gathered on my porch, waiting for somebody to tell them what’s next. Not for me to say, today, as the sun streams in the window. I place the skeins in the sun, on the windowsill.

I love teaching. But I’ve spent 9 hours grading and catching up with student grades, this past weekend. It seems I never have time to read anything but class texts. I’ve submitted my past writings to literary journals, but I’ve only written a little. I am teaching two classes, not even a full load. I am not teaching during the spring semester, and I solemnly swear I will waste no time, but instead I will rush to the writing every morning, as I’ve rushed to the writing most mornings in the past three years. Much to catch up on, many stories to get back to.

Huffington Post published a two-part interview with writer Mary Karr, who says she finished her memoir “Lit” four years behind schedule. When asked why the rewrites, she says she painted herself too dark, and the other characters too light, that her memoir didn’t feel “true” in its earlier versions. Somehow I find great encouragement in her comments. My drawer is filled with stories mulling and fermenting, waiting, ripening, and I can’t wait to get back to revision and re-imagining these sketches. My friend Allison cut a long meaningful passage down to a potent poetic passage, for publication in a journal that only publishes short-short works. My drawer is full of possibilities.

Today, in the workaday laundry and dishwashing and the sun-filled window of drying yarn, I’m remembering my earliest dreams of writing: I will fill a box with writing. Then I will find a group of writers to talk me through my box, to sort and sift and tell me what is good and what sucks. Such a simple equation! Somehow I didn’t consider rewriting, reworking, hammering on these stories. I’ve just begun to learn—the stories themselves teach me patience through annoyance, beauty through chaos. I don’t blog much anymore because I am learning to wait, to consider before posting.

Except today, when I am posting without much consideration, as I brew a second cup of coffee. I read the Arts section of the Sunday Globe, a decadent reward for such long hours of grading. I am still not caught-up with classwork. But I’m writing in my journal, in the window, with a pen. I wish my income from this job extended through spring, but I’m eager to get back to my calling, and I’ll figure it out as I go, as I always do. I love teaching but I can’t wait for the next thing, all over again.

Monday, November 02, 2009

journal note from August

I can tell the months have been busy: 168 pages in my journal, and this small ringbound edition lasted from early August through October. At other times in my life I've filled a volume per month, but much of my writing happens at the keyboard, these days, and much of my writing time aims toward revision.

When I reach the end of one journal, I draw a nameplate on the next edition, and leave a page for to-dos. Then I cull the filled journal for stuff worth follow-up. Here's a note from early August:

Inside my glorious $10 purse (my graduation purse, the basket purse from Floating Lotus), the lining is filled with loose glitter from a birthday invitation for my daughter. As I dig for change for the parking meter, my fingers sparkle. A quick shake of my hair and glitter rains. In the mirror, a stubborn speck of glitter shines from my the arch of my eyebrow.

At Starbucks today escaping THEM and their rambling summer schedules, their bickering, their need. Ran into Matt-who-lives-at-Starbucks and I told him no one has called about this teaching job at the college. Matt teaches the class I want, and he tells me I'd be perfect for it. I know. Why don't they call? I hope I haven't killed off my chances with enthusiasm.

Glitter on my eyeglass case. Glitter on my pen. They need to call me NOW.

Blessed. The worry-scowl lifts a moment with each sparkle.

Reading Brothers Karamozov today.