One day past the half-way mark of our time at Jentel, the cottonwood tree behind the artists' studios has surrendered the majority of its blooms to the air. White fluff everywhere, alighting on the pines, gathering into puffy clumps, and it really does look like snow.
Some of the other residents went tubing today in the creek around our house, only to discover that with the water this high and running this fast, those who miss the very improvised "end of the ride" mark go headlong into a barbed wire fence. They regathered, got into cars, and headed out for the lake. I'm a little sorry to not be along for the ride (well, the non-barbed portion), but on these overcast days I find myself able to get a bit more work done than usual.
I've written a 2,000-word essay here, which feels like a useful bridge between a typical Post column (750 words) and the 5,000-word chapters that will make up the book. Funny to admit that when I consider places to send it, my mind goes immediately to mainstream venues. If I'd studied CNF as part of my MFA program I would be thinking about Witness and AGNI. Instead, I'm thinking about Slate and "Modern Love."
The difference is not just one of visibility, though that's a big factor; I'm still learning to accept the jaw-clenching exposure of the personal that comes with an "XX File." There's a difference in pacing, too. When I read Mark Doty's Firebird I was struck by the indulgences of "literary" nonfiction--the amount of time spent on constructed metaphors, analytical projections, background info worked in via artificial prompts (anyone who was ever told to "write in response to a family photo" in workshop recognizes these). On one hand I envy the beauty of the writing. On the other hand I think You've got these compelling events; you don't need all this embroidery.
I feel like one of my principle tasks, in writing nonfiction, is to get out of the story's way. Did I somehow turn into a journalist when I wasn't looking?
(This bunny lives on the grounds right by the house, and can be seen almost every dusk.)
(One of four--update! five!--I've seen so far. I don't fear snakes, so it's not really a "bad" thing. Just causes the occasional double-take when I'm walking back to the main house in the dark.)
(We tried venturing into Sheridan one night to meet the locals, but it was a bit of a bust. Was it the skirt and high heels that screamed "carpetbagging citified writer"? Still, I'd like to go back...superb draft amber ales--Alaska, Fat Tire--for $3.15. That even beats Charlottesville.)
Even in a household full of women, it soon becomes clear that there are varying levels of domesticity. I'm shocked to find myself on the homemaker end of the spectrum. Buying flowers, closing cabinet doors, clucking over the misplaced cordless phone, cooking big pots of things and leaving them out for the taking. Of course, maybe it's not so much "domestic instinct" as "control freak." Hmmmm.