November 27, 2007
Time passes slowly up here in the mountains.
We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains,
Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream.
Time passes slowly when you’re lost in a dream.
— Bob Dylan, b. 1941
It was warm but windy today. Even now, just past eleven p.m., it’s 30º but the feel is 15º. I only have to feel it when I walk between my studio (the other novelist now refers to this building as “the hut”) and the house. The snow is all gone from the courtyard, and I’m shuffling between places in my clogs instead of my ankle-high waterproof boots and a sweatshirt over my sweater instead of the parka.
I worked all day. It’s the kind of day that’s hard to tell someone else about. “What did you do today?” “Well, I wrote.”
I did start with C&C, the earth-golden yarn I’m working with continuing to build a basketweave pattern for another gift pillow. I’m not accomplishing as much as quickly on this one as I did on the pillow I started in Vermont. There I had the lectures and the readings and some tv time when I could knit. Here I have only that morning C&C. After that, I become engaged by my work.
And I did work all day. I read in the morning, both fiction (a short story by Antonya Nelson) and nonfiction (the Gilbert book about dying and grieving again). I worked on an exercise concerning point of view — imagine fifteen people at the same emotional event, such as a wedding or a funeral or a championship high school sporting event. I chose a high school graduation, and tried to capture the internal monologue of a dozen different people who all know one particular graduate. I worked for three hours, had some lunch, and then went back to the studio.
I’ve moved my desk away from the window. The sun is so low and there is just so much sky out there that I could not see my computer screen when I faced the window, even without snow on the ground. Now when I look up I see a weathered wooden bookcase painted blue and some abstract paintings that are swirls of color, a diptych on red painted wood and a large panel on canvas set in a shadowbox frame. In the afternoon I started on the messy process of revision, not of the text I’d written this morning (the scene of this character’s graduation is not even in the novel), but of other scenes, using the insights I’d gained about my characters to shape their words and actions. I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I did not notice the changing light outside, and when I finally stopped, it was 4:30, the sun was setting, and I discovered that I was hungry.
No doubt my readers’ eyes (the eyes of those readers who got this far!) are glazing over now. The writing process is hard to talk about. “Well, I wrote,” is about all you can say.
Time passed slowly today while I was lost in a dream world. My hope is that I can achieve productive days like this when I return to the real world.
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