Reading The Daily Post

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal


Today, I went up to the bank to have my signature notarized. The paper needed to get back to another banker up at the farm where we took out the loan to renovate the almost-farmhouse. I make friends with my bankers: we share hellos and how are yous and how’s the family. But this Saturday morning the bank was quiet. As she prepared the notary tools, I said, “You look about as ready for morning as I do.” She laughed.

“I stayed up to late watching Family Feud,” she said. Really? With all the nuttiness and chaos in the world, you’d lose sleep watching a family fight?

Perhaps I’m not being fair. I’ve never watched it so perhaps it’s funny. But her watching what I considered an older television show (is it?) reminded me of watching METV and I started telling her about watching METV up on the farm: Bonanza, Mod Squad, Wagon Train. But of course to tell her about watching METV on the farm, I had to tell her how we came to build a place on the farm; but to do that, I had to tell her how forty years of dreaming cooked up this place. I think she lost interest somewhere around the part of me researching digital antennas.

I understand what Pascal means. Writing, I can go back, edit, delete….not so much with my mouth. My stories have a way of not having a beginning until I can get to what it was that I wanted to tell. Like WHY we sit on the farm and watch Bonanza.

I mean, isn’t that a question you’d ask? I’d certainly want to know how someone came about watching a forty years old show at their retreat place. I mean, wouldn’t you listen to birds instead?

Actually, sometimes I wonder that too and shut the door between my little writing nook and the main room where my husband delights in his digital- television-not-from-cable. But if we’re up there just to run away for a couple of days and rest, I watch with him.

I digress. The point being, if Pascal had more time, he’d have edited his letter. But then he wrote it by hand and that would mean another piece of paper; and if the point on his quill (did Pascal use a quill? ah, yes, I can see one in the print) needed sharpening, and before he could sharpen it, he’d need to go down the narrow staircase to the apothecary store to get a stone to sharpen his pen knife, well, you can see how the letter might not have been shorter.

At least that’s my story.


Yes, it really is…..

I woke early this morning feeling oddly awake. No aches. No stumbling weariness.  I thought it time to post a blog.

Writing has been – well, iffy, lately. Oh, I’ve been working at it: outlining journals from twenty-five years ago for a memoir; reading, filling my writing desk with Post-It notes and pieces of paper. Writing opening chapters have wandered as this post is wandering and have been cut and rewritten and taken apart and put back together again. And I was thinking, this morning, how much easier writing a novel might be than writing memoir as I do.

With novels, it seems to me, you only need your head. Easy. Well. That could be a problem too given how foggy my head has been these last few months. And my friend Theresa does a lot of research for her historical novels. Okay. Scratch novel-writing.

Maybe life has been on the chaotic side for everyone pretty much.

deskAnd yes, this really is what my writing area looks like and not a staged photo to say “writer’s room.” Mis-ordered chaos. Which is to say, I sort of know which pile to look in when I’m searching for something but not always.

What have I been doing all this time besides stumbling around? Writing grants. I’ve done that. Been to a lot of board meetings for Whispering Prairie Press because I involved in us in this whole process of moving ahead – somewhere – and to move ahead you need money and to get money, you write grants. So I guess I have been writing in one way or another.

Cliff and I have traveled. We drove to the Ozarks for a wonderful weekend and officiated at a wedding. We officiated at another wedding in early September north of Kansas City.  And I went up to Marshall County and met contractors to put an addition on the farm and to set up an artist residency for January (not on the farm, in Marysville). And last week, we went to Baltimore for my husband’s thirty-fifth anniversary of ordination and after that, went out to Ocean City for three days and stopped. Well, we walked a lot and that’s not exactly stopping, but every morning this was the view off our balcony.

oceanYes, it really was that beautiful.

Okay. So grants and travel. I guess that helps me feel a little less AOL.

I can’t say I’ve done a lot of house cleaning although over the summer, we did accomplish a fair amount of repair work on the house and refinanced.

And in May my book of poetry reached a reality between covers (in other words, published) and the months leading up to that filled with revisions and proofing and re-proofing and choosing covers and and and. Having a book published is every writer’s dream but when you get to it, whew! It’s a lot of work that swallows up days.

I seem to be going backwards in time to piece it all together.

“Know thyself” is a great idea in theory, but usually the knowledge comes in bits that you have to assemble like a picture puzzle when the top-of-the-puzzle-box-picture is missing. Or the picture changes. The structure to Knowing is less than clearly delineated.