Winter Count — September

Holidailies 2005 December 22, 2005

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .
    — Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

Long Lane

The image of the long and winding road runs through a lot of my writing. There is even a sign in Vermont near Bread Loaf that announces you’re about to enter one.

It seems I’m always on a path that bends and twists. I think I’m headed a certain place, but then I take a side path, and never seem to get back to the main road.At left is the lane at the south edge of our property, which ends just beyond the leaning tree. The lane runs along the back boundary of ours and our neighbors’ plots. We border what was, when our houses were built in 1976, a fallow field of some eight acres. The land was sold to a church in the early 1990s. Their building and parking lot occupy the space east of our house, and the part directly behind us is (at least for now) a grass meadow that sweeps into a wetland which we understand is protected from development.

In September I tried to sustain the creative energy that had been ignited by my third season as a participant at Bread Loaf. I did pretty well through most of September, but then, that was mostly going over paved roads — making a commitment to completing the first draft of a novel whose idea has been bouncing around for almost four years, reviewing my notes, and getting farther into the “treatment” (the very beginning stage of composition). This requires (at least for me) a conscious effort of the will to leave the real world and enter the world of the imagination, what I call the “fall into fiction.” Reading fiction requires of me almost the same amount of energy.

I lost the ability to make that fall in late September, or let it go.

I like this picture. It shows parallel, not divergent, paths. It suggests that I can inhabit two worlds, the real one and the one of the imagination. I hope not to be telling this same story with a sigh a year hence.

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