I’m OBSESSED with connecting the dots from then until now, OBSESSED with understanding that I’ve been on this earth for almost 60 years, OBSESSED with remembering how I spent the 21,871 days between the day I was born and today, … Continue reading
Just look what I came home to! I am obsessed with the changing colors of fall leaves. ~ 365 true things about me why this daily practice
I have a thing for little houses in a row. It’s the matching in a world of randomness that draws her to the houses. On the outside, for all to see, they belong to each other. Proudly. Yes, they say, … Continue reading
Seeing the wash hanging on a clothesline makes me feel good. It has long been an obsession of mine. I don’t know where it came from–I’ve hardly ever done it myself. I do remember a children’s book, We Help Mommy, … Continue reading
The summer issue of Contrary Magazine is out, and I’m excited to have a story in there, “Hidden Tracks”–the strangest story I’ve ever written actually–right beside “Blue Moon,” a wonderful story by my friend Jodi Paloni. Here’s the beginning of “Hidden … Continue reading
Since I started Catching Days back in 2008, it’s been my policy (also my personality) not to do the group blog things. Which made it easy to decline the first time someone asked me to join the my-writing-process blog tour. … Continue reading
In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard wrote, I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we … Continue reading
My end-of-the-year tally for 2013 is not how many books I read but how many days I spent in Provincetown. Every month, I was there. Usually for a week–one month for more, two months for less. Writing, reading, walking, cycling, … Continue reading
MY FAVORITE POST over the years is the one I wrote about the Days’ Cottages before I ever stayed in one of the cottages. The story below reminds me–a person who normally belabors decisions–that sometimes the truest way to the … Continue reading
What do you notice when you’re out walking?
The work of the writer is often to open to that intensity, that burn and chaos of feeling; to allow yourself to be driven by possibilities you have not yet uncovered, a revelation you do not yet know, or to … Continue reading
Some of you will remember my September 28th post entitled three things. Well, there’s more. Sometimes I choose a book knowing it will have to do with a certain subject. Usually the choice of my next book has more to do … Continue reading
My writing group just finished reading Colm Toibin’s collection, The Empty Family. Although some people in the group loved it, I didn’t. I’ve started giving away the books I know I won’t read again, and this one will be sent on its way–hopefully to a new reader.
Still, some of Toibin’s passages took my breath away, like this one from the title story, with its building of emotion by the use of repetition and the cadence of the words:
And all I have in the meantime is this house, this light, this freedom, and I will, if I have the courage, spend my time watching the sea, noting its changes and the sounds it makes, studying the horizon, listening to the wind or relishing the calm when there is no wind.
And from the same story:
It came to me then that the sea is not a pattern, it is a struggle.
I’ve come back to this line several times–the ocean as a struggle.
***Actually, if anyone would like me to send the copy (a hardback with my marginalia in pencil) his or her way, just leave word in the comments before I head to the post office on Monday, and I’ll email for your address.
from the archives: july 28, 2010
“I didn’t begin to write seriously and professionally until I was in my forties because I was busy being alive.”
Now she has been writing for thirty years: stories, novellas, and novels. In these books, she often writes about the same characters. In 1999, Margaret Donovan Bauer published The Fiction of Ellen Gilchrist. In it, she wrote:
“Gilchrist’s point of uniqueness is that all of her work is interrelated to the extent that her whole body of work…is part of an organic story cycle, a story cycle that continues to evolve as each new book appears, comparable to the roman-fleuve. It is a story cycle in the full sense of the word: there are no definite endings to the individual books and, distinguishing her work from the roman-fleuve, there is no clear beginning to the cycle.”
In 2005 all the stories Gilchrist had written to that point about Nora Jane Whittington were collected into one volume and organized in chronological order of Nora Jane’s life. I had read these stories before and had copies of them. But to read them all in a row and in the “right” order felt a little like seeing that wick that Mary Gordon referred to…I did find one or two inconsistencies, but those felt more like proof that this wonderful thing–Nora Jane Whittington’s life–was real.
In the same reading guide referred to above, Ellen Gilchrist was also asked if she had planned to write about the same characters over and over again. She said that she planned her writing the same way she planned her life:
“On a day-by-day and obsession-by-obsession basis.”
Obsession-by-obsession. I like that : )
[In similar fashion, all the stories about Rhoda Manning were collected in 1995.]
~cross-posted at the Contrary Blog
and I should turn off the light, but I wanted to share these photos from today:
Seven days the first week of April–spring break–in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, in a house right on the beach–days I can’t seem to stop thinking or writing about.
Seeing, hearing, smelling, living the ocean–I just felt great. Each moment was wider than normal. Each day had a rhythm and an arc.
I’ve never been one to appreciate or mark the beginning of the day. I’m not much in the morning. But at the end of each one of these, I paused to watch the sun disappear into the o c e a n.
It’s so quiet now, without the waves pounding in the background. The first week in April we had our own wonderful steps to the beach. I went to the grocery before I left, and after I arrived on Friday, the first, I did not set foot in a car until we pulled out of the driveway Friday, the eighth, to come home. I wish I could say I woke with the sun, but I slept late, I walked, I read, read, read… All activities interrupted by a few steps to the ship-size deck for hefty doses of sea air. I wrote, wrote, wrote…with the door open and the sound and view of the ocean. And after it was dark, just for fun, I downloaded the series Damages and watched in solo-size on my iPhone. I ate more pizza than I would have thought possible because it was the only place that delivered. Even pizza for breakfast one day. When I write, the hours turn to minutes and before I know it, the day is done. But one day, Sunday I think, I just read all day–different books. With a midday walk down the beach. And the day felt l u x u r i o u s l y long.