01 January, 2008

First day of the year

And a warm, sunny, cicada-ish day it is, too. It's 10 a.m., late to get up, but then, we were up late seeing the new year in with a small bunch of friends. And, there are no novel revisions to do—a fact that still gives me pleasure and relief, after two weeks of freedom.

These are the books I bought myself for Christmas, and I'm having a hard time not reading all of them at once:
  • Paul Park, The Tourmaline
  • Eileen Gunn, Stable Strategies and Other Stories
  • Jane Yolen, Once Upon A Time (she said)
  • James Tiptree, Jr, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
  • Susan Palwick, The Fate of Mice
  • Justine Larbalestier, Daughters of Earth
  • Ursula Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind
I've read most of the Eileen Gunn, about half of Once Upon A Time, and last night and this morning I let myself to read some of The Wave in the Mind.

Books by writers about writing—I can't get enough of them. And I have to own them, so that when I'm prowling around at 2 a.m. feeling like a complete freak of nature I can take one off the shelf and reassure myself that, well, at least I'm not the only freak of nature. These books are my company when I'm up to my ears in revisions and feeling marooned inside a mess of a world of my own creating. And I've got two, possibly three, new ones (I'm guessing Justine's book will provide this sort of company too, perhaps less directly than Le Guin's and the bits-about-writing in Jane's anthology, which is a treasure-chest of poems, stories and articles)—a gorgeous great trough of stuff, and I get to be the pig!

What prompted me to start this post was reading a poem in The Wave in the Mind called 'The Writer On, and At, Her Work', which is a wonderful, extended meditation that I feel like having tattooed on me, particularly as the essay before it is all about writing as bodily knowledge. 'Her work', she says at one point:
is with letters,
with secret letters.
Letters that were not written
for generations.
she must write them
over, and over, and over.
And then there is this part where she reworks that Frost poem in a way that, were I a punching-the-air type of person...
I came to a place
I couldn't see well in the darkness,
where the road turned
and divided, it seemed like,
going different ways.
I was lost.

I didn't know which way.
it looked like one roadsign said To Town
and the other didn't say anything.

So I took the way that didn't say.
I followed
'I don't care,' I said,
'I don't care if nobody ever reads it!
I'm going this way.'

And I found myself
in the dark forest, in silence.

You maybe have to find yourself,
in the dark forest.
Anyhow, I did then. And still now,
And this is how it finishes, after having talked a lot about waking up in the morning and starting to have ideas and put words together:
The Writer On Her Work:
I see her, too, I see her
lying on it.
lying, in the morning early,
rather uncomfortable.
Trying to convince herself
that it's a bed or roses,
a bed of laurels,
or an innerspring mattress,
or anyhow a futon.
But she keeps twitching.

There's a lump, she says.
There's something
like a rock—like a lentil
I can't sleep.

There's something
the size of a split pea
that I haven't written.
That I haven't written right.
I can't sleep.

She gets up
and writes it.
Her work
is never done.
*snort, wallow*

Starting off the year wonderfully, I had an email from my editor this morning subject-lined 'Tender Morsels—cooked to perfection' which started off, 'Well, you can sweep off home now on your fine mare; your work here is done.' And I felt that corner of my brain that, although I was just relieved to have got the revisions done and away, has been all curled up, hiding under the bed waiting for some kind of storm to break, begin to relax, and crawl out. Obviously part of me is very metaphor-starved, judging by this post so far...

I've been working, just a tiny bit, in between some serious loafing. I've been researching the four short stories and the short book I have to get written before May. And a couple of mornings ago, when I woke up and found a lentil in the bed—I did lie uncomfortably on it, pretending to sleep, for two hours first—I got up and wrote 8 pages of one of them.

Happy New Year, everyone. Health, wealth, happy reading and happy writing to you all. Oh, and peace on earth would be nice, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy new year Margo! those are some awesome poems, very inspirational. As you yourself have been, you are a bloody legend and I really enjoyed your advice and help during Clarion South.

Hope this year brings you (more) amazing success and all the happiness you can handle.

Rock on!

Jason Fischer.

01 January, 2008 12:44  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Thanks, Jason, and Happy 2008 to you too! May zombie camels only take small pieces of you, out of your earlobes maybe - although I guess it's the first nibble that does the damage, eh.

02 January, 2008 09:51  

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