the last day

Well, it’s Saturday, the last day the ten of us will be together at Pam Houston‘s ranch in Creede, Colorado. Lots of reading and little extra time. Our next meeting will be seven days instead of six.

I’m up early to finish reading manuscripts. Two stories this morning then a phone conference on two stories this afternoon. Last night, after Greg and Tina opened on electric guitars, Pam read the amazing end of the book she’s just finished. We’ve been hearing sections for a while, but no one had heard the end. Wow. Now the waiting until we can hold the book in our hands and read it over and over again.

It was a quick week. Welcome dinner Monday night. Two manuscripts on Tuesday with a talk on language–the beauty of sentences–that afternoon by Greg Glazner. Then back for the best salmon I’ve ever tasted. Tuesday, three novel excerpts, then that evening, a reading by Summer Wood from her soon-to-be published novel Wrecker, as well as a reading by Greg from his book in progress.

Thursday we left papers behind and hiked in Phoenix Park up to the waterfall. It was a stunningly beautiful day with a bright blue sky and shimmering aspens everywhere–quakies. Lunch outside at Kip’s. And then the Saints game–party courtesy of our New Orleans writer, Karen, including seven-layer dip, a jersey, and a particularly good photo of Jeremy Shockey.

Yesterday, four stories, a pasture walk, and then a novel excerpt bring us to our wonderful evening last night. After today’s work, it will be dinner and a play in town.

I’ll be up at 5:30 in the morning for my drive back to real life.

row houses

028_00When Georgia Heard was asked what one image she thought represented her life, she answered “layers,” clarifying “as in the Grand Canyon.”  I would have to say houses, as in rows of identical ones.

Georgia Heard wrote in Writing Toward Home, “The seemingly random observations I make or the subjects I choose to write about are like the branches of a tree whose roots reach down to the depths of myself and reveal my obsessions….The task of finding your key images is lifework.”

Pam Houston wrote in “Pregnancy and Other Natural Disasters,” an essay in A Little More About Me, “There is only one story of our lives and we tell it over and over again, in a thousand different disguises, whether we know it or not.”  And I swear one of her characters says this too, but I can’t find it.

I don’t know what my one story is, but I’m working on it.  The more I write, the more I see similar shapes.  I have pictures from all over Columbus of these row houses.  (Unfortunately, I just realized, not digital ones.  And my scanner is refusing to work with Vista.)  When I travel, I take pictures of these houses as well.  The one at the top of the blog, as well as the one in today’s post, were both taken in Provincetown in 2006.  The one on my website is of the same houses but taken by a professional photographer.

I think the houses have something to do with exteriors and interiors.  All alike on the outside, but what goes on inside must be so different.  Or maybe a fascination with the exterior to avoid the interior.  Also, maybe something to do with simplifying our lives to one of these small little houses–something manageable.  Perhaps even , though this one will surprise me if it turns out to be true, something to do with community.

In an interview at the back of Waltzing the Cat, Pam Houston said, “I surrender myself to the truth of the metaphors I have chosen (that’s the scary part), and eventually, the story finds its own truth.”

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