Wednesday, January 31, 2007

frozen solid

This is about how cold it feels out there today. Horses in blankets, cats by the woodstove, corgyn sticking close to their people.

The crows were in full force in the front field but maddeningly took off when I appeared oh so quietly through the front door. Daughter says "just deal with the fact that they don't want their picture taken!"

Ha. I guess I should.

Monday, January 29, 2007

forgotten pumpkin

Winter continues, after a weekend of respite. The horses stayed in blankets all day long, and even though the sun was bright, the ice I removed from the water tubs is still lying broken on the ground.

Taking a walk outside today, listening to the ground crunch beneath my feet, I noted the forgotten pumpkin lying at the woods' edge. It made me think of autumn - all the color and wonder now cast aside for this colder season.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

opening lines

This is a blatant writing exercise designed to build up some steam for tonight's writing session, in which I officially return to The Schedule, on Sunday evening as opposed to Monday morning, simply because tonight's task is the more enchanting one.

Ten books from a nearby shelf, all novels. Author/title/opening sentence.

I find these kinds of things fascinating. If you're reading this and not a writer, it might be less so, but I hope it captures your fancy in some unexpected way.

James Salter - A Sport and a Pastime: "September. It seems these luminous days will never end."

Ian McEwan - Atonement - "The play -- for which Briony had designed the posters, programs and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crepe paper -- was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch."

A.S. Byatt - Possession - "The book was thick and black and covered with dust."

Michael Cunningham - The Hours - "She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather."

Charles Frazier - Thirteen Moons - "There is no scatheless rapture."

Charles Frazier - Cold Mountain - "At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring."

Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient - "She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance."

Janet Fitch - Paint It Black - "Cold numbed the tip of Josie Tyrrell's nose and her ass, just outside the reach of the studio space heater."

Janet Fitch - White Oleander - "The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw."

Heidi Julavits - The Mineral Palace - "As soon as the Ford Touring Car crossed the St. Paul city limits on April 20, 1934 ("You Are Leaving St. Paul, Minn., Home of the Inlagd Sill Herring Festival, Please Visit Us Again"), and passed into the great, square-upon-square expanse of the surrounding farmland, Bena jotted down the odometer reading with the golf pencil she kept in the ashtray: 5.434."

Friday, January 26, 2007


Today was one of those very cold, quiet mornings that seemed almost holy. The horses walked slowly up the hill and I realized their steps were tentative because the ground was frozen hard beneath their hooves, especially odd, I imagine, after these weeks of mucky earth that gave way up to their fetlocks in some places.

I fed breakfast and removed blankets amid soft snorts and the quiet crunch of feed, and then went out to open the back field, throw hay, and check water tubs.

Evidence of winter. The sheet in the back field's trough was solid and broke into a perfect puzzle.

The trough in the paddock had already been broken early this morning, and the puzzle pieces were still intact, pieces of green pressed beneath like specimens under glass.

I sat out and watched for a bit as the horses methodically stopped by the trough, drank, and then found the hay piles. Mid-morning in winter and all is just fine in this little corner of the world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

footprints from my novel

Today was Virginia Woolf's birthday...

In A Room of One's Own, she wrote:

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

flora segunda

I love this Young Adult novel - don't know anything about the author except that this is her debut novel and she has a lovely and most unusual name. Ysabeau Wilce. It has all the elements to pull me in: spirited female protagonist, books, magick, a huge house and stable that has its own mysteries and quirks, and a Butler who can whip things into shape in the blink of an eye. :)

It begs to be read out loud. Maybe we'll try that next, after the individual solo reads.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, infinite.

-William Blake

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

dream home

May I indulge myself here and post photos of my dream home? It actually was on the market a few months ago but appears to have sold.

Note the pony barn. Also note that the entire exterior fencing is backed with no-climb mesh so the corgyn could run free over the entire property.

And, note the main barn to the left/rear of the pony barn. The gate in the foreground is at the very back of the property and opens onto 3000+ acres of public riding/driving trails.

What a great place.

Monday, January 15, 2007

the jefferson

Today I was walking around Southern Pines, after stopping at the bookstore to buy my children a gift before heading home.

I knew the Jefferson Inn was being renovated, but it's been a long, long time since that process started, and I've come to just assume it's "not finished."

The Jefferson, by the way, played a big part in the writing of my first novel, the one I'm down here revising right now. I rented a little office in Aberdeen for nearly a year, and came down on Thursdays to write. I always ended the day with a stop at the Jefferson for dinner and a drink and the weekly open mike that featured wonderful local music.

When the Jefferson closed its doors I was heartbroken. It had been running continuously since 1902 and had every bit of the history and charm it must have had early on.

Today I decided to peer in the windows and see what was up in there.

Imagine my surprise (and glee) to see someone sitting behind a computer in the reservation/innkeeper area! I went in and discovered that it is up and running, with 15 gorgeous rooms (I saw 8 of them) and the restaurant/bar opening sometime in April.

The Jefferson is in my first book. Now it can go in my third one too!

If you feel like a weekend, or a week, in Southern Pines, look them up and give them your business. I don't ever want the Jefferson to be closed again.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

too many dreams to count

BIG breakthrough yesterday with the revision... something that only now seems obvious, after I've taken the leap and done it.

I was up very late following the ripples of dropping the big stone into the pond of my book, and when I finally did go to bed, I dreamed ALL NIGHT LONG.

I woke up after each dream, so I remember them all. They were all over the place, as if unleashing that stone opened the gates to the unconscious, wide.

Great night, lots of work to do today.

The magic mansion comes through again. :)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

a writer's dream

Last night I dreamed that some unseen force tied helium balloons to my legs so I could not stand solid on the earth. I kept removing the balloons, which were long like femurs, and pale blue, and the mysterious force kept putting them back.

In the meantime, the electricity had been turned off and I wanted it back on.

In the end I won, but I was exhausted from my persistence.

Given the previous post and my being down here to "wire" my first novel, I had to smile this morning when I woke up. I probably need the power off while wiring, don't you think?

The photo here is the view out my window. I took it yesterday, moved by the pattern of the bricks, the darkness in that window, the pile of unused shutters, and the two solid pines standing like sentinels on either side.

Today the pine on the left is being cut down as I type. It's rotting from the base and leaning slightly toward the upstairs veranda. They have chosen to take it out before it takes out a chunk of the house.

Somehow all this is swirling around, filtering into my work in not quite conscious ways. It's going well.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

interesting slip of the keyboard

I had emailed someone a "regret" about a dinner coming up that I won't be able to attend because of a writing residency I'm doing.

The purpose of the time is to rewrite my first book and get it back out there to publishers early this year.

When the recipient of my "regret" emailed me back, she wrote:

"Wiring is much more important. We will see you next month."

She meant, of course, to type "writing."

But what a wonderful slip! Essentially, what I need to do is indeed to "wire" this novel. Give it the underlying current to electrify.

I had already made notes to this effect, but now I will go with such a vivid idea of what it is I want to accomplish.



Sunday, January 07, 2007

journeyman/woman along many paths

The path to the barn...

The path to the pile...

The path to the outside world...

The path to possibility...

I travelled over the earth
Before I became a learned person.
I have travelled, I have made a circuit,
I have slept in a hundred islands, dwelt in a hundred cities.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Bliadhna Mhath Ur dhuit!

Have been thinking of book stuff last night and this morning, and in honor of the Scot in all of them, happy new year!

May 2007 bring peace and blessings to all.