Saturday, June 28, 2008

Provincetown 26

video

Come Walk With Me!

It only takes a minute: literally!

(video is one minute long).

I went for a very early stroll this morning down Commercial Street In P-Town and took these photos. I started out just before 5 a.m., when the birds were singing loudly. The Rooster (whose, I do not know) crowed at 4:37 this morning.

The walk starts with some shots of the beach, which is just steps from Commercial Street. Then I took some shots of the street, stores, and ended back at FAWC. The last shot is of my view from my kitchen sink: included in the shot is a gorgeous card sent to me by my friend, Judi Heartsong.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Provincetown 25

video

This is a slideshow of us leaving for P-Town and of our first days there. It lasts about 3-minutes.

Provincetown 24

This is my bed in P-Town. The quilt is one that my mother made. After she died, she gave my sister-in-law and me pick of the quilts. She made several and never used them herself, just put them away carefully for us.

This is the bed from a different angle, showing my nightstand and the door that goes to the kitchen/living room. I've been doing a lot of writing with my laptop on the bed. Interestingly, a lot of writers have chosen to compose while in bed.

If you have been following my blog, you will remember when I made my Walt Whitman box from a Goodwill find. It works very well for keeping fountain pen cartridges in. I also have some of my favorite earrings in the bottom drawer.
My dresser with the Walt Whitman box. There wasn't enough shelf space in the apartment, so I had to improvise, using cardboard boxes.

Provincetown 23

video

Walking Buddha and Sweet Pea on the Beach at P-Town

This is just a quick video of me walking Buddha and Sweet Pea on the Beach here in P-Town. The video was shot in the early evening. Of course the pups went home with Allen at the end of the first week.

Provincetown 22

Provincetown Fog: Early morning.

I finally discovered how to post photographs from the computers in the FAWC lab. I chose this photograph to start because it's unlike most photos you see of P-Town. This was taken in the very early morning before anyone was out and about. It's a good photo to symbolize trying to find one's way in writing a book.

Provincetown 21

I stayed up all night making changes to the manuscript. It always takes longer than I think it will. I crawled into bed early this morning and slept like a rock all day. I got up with incredible energy, walked to the PO, stopped by Far Land Grocery, and came home ready to tackle the writing again.

It was a beautiful evening. It was clear and very cool. It will be in the fifties tonight, my kind of weather.

The process of shaping and reshaping a narrative is a wondrous thing.

A young student of mine, upon receiving a post card from me, said the card had made him want to burn down his house and make for Cape Cod. I wrote him back and said by all means he should.

There's no better literary symbol of starting over than the burning down of one's house.

So often when you're writing, you just have to start over. As you retype, you also rethink and you deepen the story and the voice of the story. There's so much you want to hold onto because you've come to feel close to it, but it's poison to do that. You have to let it go.

As in life, sometimes you just have to burn down your house and start over.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Provincetown 20

I stepped outside just moment ago for only the second time today. It's been rainy. I turned on my porch light and descended the steps. A shudder went through me as leaves sushed beside me. I know I'm safe here at FAWC but that doesn't keep the mind from racing.

I worked all day on the book. I'm up to 50 pages today and feel good about it. I'm at a point where a few decisions need to be made that will determine the make up of the rest of the book. I needed to stop and let my mind rest.

I had two sweet letters from Allen today. It's good to get mail from home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Provincetown 19

It's going to rain today. It's cloudy and humid. I wanted to get in my daily walk before it starts, so I gathered a letter and post card and headed for the PO. I became so enthralled watching the people today that I walked right past the building (which is a huge brick building, hard to miss). I really MUST take my video camera one day and just film what's happening on a busy day on Commercial Street.

A Kennedy sound-alike was reciting poetry outside the Universalist Meeting House. Heretofore, I thought the New England accent was the Kennedy accent alone, so many male voices here sound like Jack, or Bobby, or Teddy to me. I certainly never thought I'd be on Cape Cod which, to me, is synonymous with the Kennedy clan.

Walking back to my apartment, I heard a woman, shopping bags in hand, tell her husband (I assume he was her husband because he was most familiarly rude) that she wasn't having any fun. He said something sarcastic that I couldn't make out. She seemed a mixture of frustration and sadness. She was near tears.

Yesterday, a man dressed as a woman (he looked like one of Carol Burnette's characters) was trying to ride a bicycle. His high heeled shoes kept slipping off the pedals, and he was saying, "It's like a bicycle, but it's not like a bicycle."

My walk over for today, I turned into the FAWC lot. From the house next to FAWC, I heard music: "We've got to move these refrigeratahs, we've got to move these color Tee Veeeeeees!"

Today I plan to make real progress on the manuscript. I'm up to 43 pages. The characters and situation are deepening nicely.

I saw on Facebook yesterday that a recent student of mine has just been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Whether you know Ryan or not, please think positive thoughts, create positive vibes. He's a terrific young man, and he's very positive about fighting the illness.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Provincetown 18

I catch myself thinking, I must hurry, and then I realize there's time, there's so much time for me to work on this book.

I had 30 pages, then I started over and went down to 8. Now I'm up to 23. When I printed the pages last night and took the editing pen to it, I made very few changes or corrections. I am on the right track.

I'm off now to mail some postcards. It's a beautiful day, so sunny and cool. Yesterday I mailed some things and stopped by Far Land Grocery to buy things for a salad. The avocado was the perfect ripeness.

I saw a slideshow given by the artist Robert Henry. My apologies to those about to get postcards: I wrote about the slideshow in the cards.

First Henry talked about the years he spent as an art teacher at the university level. He didn't have nice things to say. He felt the art department tried too hard to justify themselves on an intellectual level. Always with this: What does it mean? He also had choice words for art critics. He said we're in trouble when criticism comes before the art.

What was really intriguing, though, were the images. Many of them were of his wife who was comatose for several weeks and hospitalized for three months. One of them showed her near the end of her medical dilemma in a wheelchair, her hands thrown up and giving two peace signs. Many of the other paintings look at the side of life we want to avoid: his wife in a neck brace, her vulnerability.

One image was of many people crawling or lying on the ground. Out of the heavens came thin, bright shafts of light. He said he put the painting away for a long time after he'd finished it because it didn't adhere to certain rules. The shafts of light were stark against the dark background. There was no effort made to make them part of the picture by using any painterly technique. Another painting was of a heavy man, his eyes bulging. The portrait most certainly looked like a madman. This was another painting that Henry said he had to put away before showing it to anyone.

The point is that what drives you, what fascinates you, are the things that scare you. It is by your exploration of this frightening mental terrain that births your art. It also makes you carry on because you want to find out how far you can take it; you want to know what there is to know.

I better get to that PO.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Provincetown 17

Never be afraid to start over.

The readings last night by Maxine Kumin and Matthew Klam were amazing. After I got back to my apartment, I looked over my manuscript and found it wanting. It has good situation and the characters are nicely drawn, but the prose lacked a certain edge. There didn't feel like there was anything at stake. No one was in a sense of peril.

So I laid the manuscript out on my bed and got my laptop. Propped up on pillows, I started over, and a dark theme emerged. This writing has more power than the last.

It isn't a matter of starting completely over but of retyping and infusing the prose with tension.

I'm much happier with this draft.

Writing is always a matter of trying to figure out what one wants to say. Every gesture, every word must count. A reader has to have the feeling that something important is at stake in order to keep turning the pages.

I think I was reluctant to let anything bad happen to these characters. I like them too much. I thought I was letting their vulnerabilities show, but I wasn't going deeply enough.

Tonight Pam Houston is reading.

Looking at my comments, I see there's a strong interest in what color I painted my toenails. The drugstore here didn't have a huge selection. I chose a respectable shade of pink. I also got another, more purpley color. Maybe I'll look for something bolder to go along with my new manuscript.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Provincetown 16

I stayed up until five in the morning working on the novel and woke up at nine thirty in the morning. I just couldn't get back to sleep at all, so I got up, showered, finished a letter to Allen, and headed out to do some errands.

I stopped by the Summer Program Office to give the director a few copies of my novel to sell. I gave her a signed copy and she took on as if I'd given her a hundred dollars. She's so enthusiastic. You know people must be giving her books all the time. I bought two books: Maxine Kumin's Selected Poems and a book by Pam Houston. Both authors are doing readings this week. The place where the readings happen is just across a small courtyard from my aparment. I can look out my window and see everything.

I found out yesterday that my workshop was canceled, and I was actually glad, practically ecstatic, because the writing is going so well, and I was afraid the workshop would be a distraction.

I'm going now to mail letters.

My goal is to finish 20 new pages by the end of the week.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Provincetown 15

I slept late today and when I got up I made myself hot tea and got right to work. I took a break and had a light supper and then I took a short walk on the beach. The tide was coming in and there wasn't any firm sand to walk on. I passed a man on the beach who asked me about my hair. He was about my age, maybe older. He said, "Girl, how long did it take you to grow your hair out that way?"

I hesitated. I couldn't quite make out what he wanted. I'm not used to being in a strange town without my husband. I told him about twenty years. I kept walking and so did he. We were turned around talking, our feet still walking away from each other.

He said his hair was all the way down his back and then he cut his. He said he didn't know why. "I just passed this place and I did it," he said. We kept on walking. I did a hand gesture like "shame on you." I kept walking and so did he.

I said, "You shouldn't have done that."

He said, "I know." And then we were too far away to hear each other anymore.

The writing went well today. I'm anxious to get back to it.

I was sorry to see of Tim Russert's passing. I'll miss him.

Two days ago I bought Birkenstocks and painted my toenails.

May each of us live to see another day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Provincetown 14

They have a name up here for when the dew point is way down. The weather person calls it "refreshing." That's what it is today.

I sat on my bed with my laptop and wrote 10 good pages today. Then I walked downtown and mailed a letter. Walked on the beach a while. Then stopped here at the lounge to pick up my mail and do a quick fact check on the computer. I'm heading back to my apartment now to look at what I've done and write some more.

What's good about what I write here is the nearly complete break I'm experiencing with my life back in Ohio. This has helped me to make my characters much different than myself and different from people I know. I write anything I want. The internal censor that's usually at work when I go to my writing room at my house in Ohio has been largely shut off. I'm free.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Provincetown 13

In response to Waterboy's question, I have read Tough Guys by Mailer, but not in a long time. I read it as part of my graduate study in 1988 or 1989! I don't remember anything but the sexy parts, unfortunately!

Today is my first day of being completely, entirely on my own. Allen, Buddha, and Sweet Pea left for Ohio at 1:30 in the morning. I couldn't sleep, so I finished a novel, took a nap, got up at 8:30 in the morning, wrote letters, showered, took another nap. It's been unseasonably warm here, so I just wrapped myself in a sari. Then I sat up in bed and wrote 800 words on the novel. I'm just heading out now to mail my letters and take a walk on the beach.

It's hard to describe my aloneness. Allen had been doing all sorts of errands for me, like getting me coffee and a treat in the morning. Today I had hot tea instead of coffee (I don't have the right kind of filters for the coffee maker FAWC has supplied me with). I put away the bowl and glass Allen has been using (FAWC supplies all dishes, pots, pans, and silverware). I have been missing him pretty bad. I wrote not one but two mushy letters to him today. That's what I'm getting ready to mail. Also a letter to our boys.

As I came out the door of my apartment, I heard a dog that sounded exactly like Sweet Pea.

Those of you who remember my first entries about Sweet Pea know that she is a rescued dog. She has never been friendly with people outside of our family. But so many people here in P-Town are dog-lovers and are so gentle around her that she really started to come around. To our great surprise, last night she allowed a young man from New Hampshire to pet her and she licked his hands and face!

I'm looking forward to the free days ahead to read, write, and think.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Provincetown 12

I've been up since nine this morning, unusual for me, since I'm a night person. But I tried for weeks to get acclimated to a day schedule so Allen and I could enjoy P-Town for the week that he is with me. I arose and had a glass of V-8, took a shower: I have the tiniest shower. I'm a bath person and worried about that, but the water here is far superior to that of Ohio, and my skin feels clean. All in all, life is happy here.

Allen was out on the fishing pier filming the commercial fishermen this morning, and, amazingly, one of them invited him to go along on the boat today. So he will be out in the Atlantic for six hours getting a taste of what commercial fishing is really like. The men who do the work are a rough lot, pants cut off just below the knees and Tee-shirts all covered with stains. I wrote a letter to my friend Julie and walked to the post office to mail it. I stopped by the truck to open the truck cap windows wider for Buddha and Sweet Pea, give them some water, and pet them awhile, and then came straight here to the lounge. In the background, I can hear Hillary giving her concession/unity speech: there is a TV here, but I understand it will be removed in a week or so.


It's warm today, and should get up to 85 or so tomorrow, but then it will cool down again, they say. Commercial street is the busiest I've seen it since we arrived.

I did my research on the Homestead Strike and thought more about how to proceed with the novel. I'm going to head back to my apartment now and try to get some words down.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Provincetown 11

We arrived in Provincetown on June 2 after driving almost straight through. We decided to spend the night in Hyannis and arrive fresh and Rested to P-Town the next morning. This is the first time I've had access to e-mail. I don't have a connection at all in my apartment; I have to walk across the courtyard to the FAWC lounge to use one of their computers for Internet. Frankly, there has been too much to see and do to think about the Internet! But, alas, today I reallized I had not printed out any of my Internet research on the Homestead Strike, which I plan to mention in my novel, so the Internet became a must today.

The town is on the tip of Cape Cod. I have a cozy upstairs apartment on the FAWC (Fine Arts Work Center) grounds. It's an attic apartment in an old Cape Cod house, so the ceiling has an uncountable number of angles. FAWC is a stone's throw from the shore. I'd like to post some photographs, but the computers here don't seem to be set up for disks or memory keys. I'll investigate later and if there's any way to post photos, I certainly will.

The price of rentals and real estate here is astounding. I'm so amazed, just amazed, that I will have the opportunity to stay here for 3 months.

So far the temperatures have been very cool, in the 60's during the day and 50's at night. For two days, it rained.

Provincetown is a dog-friendly town. Everywhere people are walking their four-legged friends and everywhere it is clean because P-Towners are very responsible when it comes to cleaning after their dogs. Buddha and Sweet Pea love the beach. They are just getting wise to the fact that the water is salty (so used are they to drinking out of Ohio rivers and lakes).

On my second day here, Dorothy, who is in charge of the Summer Program here at FAWC gave three of us a tour. She took the other OAC Provincetown resident (the artist), another artist on residency from Maryland, and myself in her car to point out some of the sites. She showed us Norman Mailer's house, and we asked if she'd known him. Yes, she said, she'd known him well, and he'd done a lot for FAWC in the way of giving readings and such. She also showed us Stanley Kunitz's house. Did she know him? Yes, of course, she said. She had helped him in his garden and had been his driver for a number of years.

Imagine.

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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych

Wishing

Wishing

Little Deer

Little Deer

Transformation

Transformation

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

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