2015: Back in Provincetown, I sit still and stare at the water. The last couple of years, all my writing efforts have poured into this current novel and apparently all my self-worth as well. When I see people, they ask if they can buy one of my books yet. I lose my voice. I slip further away from me. The true me. What matters. I come up with a plan to recover myself. I will post #1truething about me every day for a year. When I’m in Georgia, I spend Wednesdays in Atlanta visiting and helping my parents. I begin to revise my novel again, but the one true thing project takes precedence and that feels right. In March I wake up one morning not believing my eyes–huge pieces of sea ice/ice floes/icebergs cover the Provincetown harbor. My hair is thinning and my nails are breaking. My endocrinologist says my numbers are fine. I cut my hair short and turn it red. Columbus is coming into its own with the longest urban whitewater course in the U.S. and a zipline across the Chattahoochee. For my birthday I step off the platform into nothingness and slide across a cable form Georgia to Alabama. Hillary Clinton will run for president. Bobby and Claire are expecting a baby! A couple of years ago I started going through our photos and digitalizing them. No real progress until now when I decide to tackle a year at a time and to finish by December. In addition to the generative workshop in Boulder in the spring and the Tomales Bay workshop in the fall, Writing by Writers adds a boot camp for completed manuscripts. We take our family beach trip to Sarasota for Memorial Day week. For our 30th anniversary, Cal and I take our first trip to the Caribbean, to Petit St. Vincent, where we raise and lower a flag outside our oceanside cottage if we need anything. Until now I’ve shelved every book I read. I begin to cull. I don’t feel that great. I don’t have my normal amount of energy, and when I get sick, it takes forever to get well. Perhaps it’s because I eat too much sugar and cheese and not enough vegetables. Cal and I go back to Canyon Ranch in July. I do a whole 30 but feel terrible the whole time. Throughout the year, there are visits from family, visits to family. In September, Baby Ro is born! And the nights become magical again–filled with little peeps and scratches, little fingers and toes. Only 34 books this year but so many that rise to the top: Niall Williams’ History of the Rain, Joy Castro’s Island of Bones, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping, Miranda July’s The First Bad Man, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (736 pages), Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby. 72 songs on my Spotify playlist–Joshua Radin’s Worlds Apart, Lucius’s Wildewoman, O.A.R.’s Peace, The National’s Gospel, LP’s Into the Wild, Distant Cousins’ Fly Away, Andra Day’s Rise Up, and Nate Ruess’ Nothing Without Love… My agent sends my novel out to 4 more editors, and either something’s missing or it’s too literary or it’s too commercial or just nothing. 92 days in Provincetown.
She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life