Days 29 & 30: We Say Good-bye

Words written: Only this blog post.
Total words written (but this also includes words from November): 109,726 or 179 pages, single spaced

On Friday, I wrote my words in long hand and then typed it up. It's almost not worth it to do this, because it takes forever in long hand, and then two hours more in the evening to retype what I've written only to find I'm 600 words short. I read something that Martin Amis said in an interview with the Paris Review where he suggested that a good amount of writing time per day is two hours, more if you are revising and on a roll. Two hours is reasonable. Four hours and I start to feel like I never want to write another word again.

What have I learned? I am sad to be leaving--it feels like it went too fast, though there were days this week where I couldn't believe it was only, like, Tuesday, for instance, and then there was the time on the second weekend when I realized I had two more full weeks to go and couldn't believe it. And then there was the feeling in the beginning like maybe I should bolt. I couldn't get comfortable; didn't know where to be or who to talk to, and was afraid to ride the bike into town because I thought I would die.  And now I've packed back up my books and folded my clothes in the suitcase, and freaked out the dog completely because he knows that suitcase means travel and he's not sure if he's coming with me. As I type this, he is pressed up against my leg. And I feel sad, but I have to remember how challenging it was too.

I lost some momentum with reading the third and fourth weeks here--couldn't keep picking up books of poetry, stopped reading the medical books. I got frazzled at the library, running around pulling books off the shelf for inspiration. I didn't ever know what to make for dinner, and so made pasta twice and a very bad pizza on flatbread with Velveeta cheese once, and then relied on eating a late lunch after that or microwaving a frozen dinner. Shannon mostly ate eggs and crackers with melted cheese and tomatoes on them. The other three were more disciplined---Raluca would make a salad, same for Michelle, and Ilse would have her pudding mix---berries and milk and possibly chai seeds.

At night, I would go to bed around 10 or 11 and then not sleep until 12 or later (last night as 12:40). Up in the morning between 8:30 and 9:30, and then out to write at the table outside or the green bench with the dog underfoot, waiting for Carson to show up at 11 or so. Wrote in my room some nights, and was able to mostly keep my promise to myself about blogging every day, except for two days when efforts were combined. And now, I think I need to put this novel aside for a while and let it sit, or maybe print it out and try to organize it somewhat and then let it sit. I'm also considering what I might want to do with November novel writing month this year--possibly a murder mystery. My new thing is going to be to write a rough draft of a project every fall.

What I realized last night while trying to fall asleep is that this book will rely completely on voice. If I can nail her voice, make her someone you want to keep listening to and following, then the plot will follow. I had some other seemingly brilliant ideas for scenes at 1 a.m., but can't recall them now.

How to combat the ennui of home? How will I stop myself from simply playing on my phone all night, every night? One solution is to take another class or to force myself to go to the Tuesday night writing group. I have to set goals or I will marinate in nothingness of days without creative shape. Raluca told me that Jo Ann Beard doesn't particularly like to write, and doesn't think of writing as a pleasure necessarily, but more like the creation of art. I never think of my work as art, but maybe I should. Take it more seriously, note that I have a talent for it, allow it to be something.

Remember how Ilse was first and the white dog spilled out of the car. I tried to help her unload her stuff. We talked about where she might sleep, because she wanted the first floor for Tillykve (sp?? We also call her Mooks). Two days later, Raluca let her have the space, saying she could work anywhere. I've done laundry with Ilse about four times and she always folds my clothes. She's like the Mom here, cleaning up after people, running errands. She bought Chap the cream for itchiness and put it on him. Raluca is also generous. She is the one who is more firmly planted in the literary world. Shannon stays in her room, revising--she is very disciplined and focused. Michelle was always up the earliest and in her studio wearing large headphones. She had the more visible studio, viewable from the upstairs window, but we tried not to spy. Rex and Diane came almost every day for a few hours, and would watch Chaplin.

I won't go to the library again. I won't ride these bikes again, which is fine because I think one of them is getting a flat tire. I will ride my bike at home instead.

Later: home now, and unpacked. I must unpack everything or else I feel like I am still at odds. Found sand in the cuff of my jeans from going to the beach at dusk with everyone to watch the sunset. A fitting end, everybody (even Chap) watching the sun sink into the horizon. I hope we stay in touch, though I am bad at that. I hope I keep writing, and if I learned nothing else, it's that I will stick with something, provided I have concrete goals. Keep going, keep writing, keep connecting with people who you might not otherwise have met, keep taking risks, even if those risks make your heart ache later.

Chap, slightly aware that we will be leaving soon.


Art again.


Near the hallway to the stairs. 
Note Chap running up the stairs and his bald spot. 

Art in the studio. 

Michelle's space, empty. 

The roof. 

Ilse's space.

Barn doors that lead outside. 

Art in Ilse's room.

These are the gifts we left behind for the August people who will come on Tuesday. 

And the note we included with tips about what to do in Montauk. 

Shannon in a sweatshirt we found together at the rummage sale on Saturday. 

Raluca, wrapped in blanket, walking Chap by the beach. 
The two of us. I wear a sweatshirt I also found at the rummage sale the second Saturday. 

Chap in the wind. 

Shannon pointing to ? (unknown)

Ilse asked a guy to take our picture. He did so reluctantly and then she returned the favor with more enthusiasm. 

Moon, last night.

Wrote my name on the wall in the bedroom closet this afternoon before we left, below the person who came before me.