We returned to the city last night. As you may have guessed from my “Fictions” post below, my so-called writing retreat turned into more of a weekend of not so much writing as relaxing (i.e., reading, swinging in the hammock, watching the pond, taking a languid nap on the couch). Also checking my email and Facebook and Myspace and… you get the picture. Still, it smelled amazing up there. My heart slowed, the panic dissipating even just for a couple nights. We cooked for every meal (by “we” I should say E, though I did mostly make the pancakes). It was nice, so relaxing, though as you can see by the post from yesterday, my guilt and heavy-weighted doubts followed me up there. I guess they’re not confined to the city limits.
While there, we drove past the agent’s house. We had to; it’s between the one-lane bridge and my mother’s house where we were staying. There’s just no way to avoid it, though I’d like to. Here’s the cruel coincidence: I learned, a few years ago, that a literary agent I was in contact with happened to have a weekend house a mere minute from my mother. That was all well and good when this agent had my manuscript—there was a holiday, Thanksgiving, our pseudo-Christmas, in which we drove past through the snow and I pictured her in there reading it, maybe beside a fire, maybe with a cup of hot cocoa, you know I have an ungainly imagination. The coincidence was a splendid discovery, at first. Then she suggested a rewrite, which I did, though it clearly wasn’t right, so she suggested another rewrite, which I did, and I’ll admit I believe she was right in both instances, but the last contact I had was that if I had another manuscript I should feel free to contact her with that. I think I wore her out. Sometimes it hurts to talk about. Most times, I guess. Other times, I feel honored to know she took the time, realizing who her other clients are and her position with the agency, I tell myself to feel honored, I do, but it feels pretty sucky to drive quietly past her house and pretend I don’t know she lives there. I’ve never met her, though I’ve talked to her on the phone. Anyway, she was there this weekend. Judging by the many cars parked in her driveway and on the roadside, she was having a party. I didn’t stop to picture the literary hotshots at her house that very moment… I had a hammock to swing in, a pond in which to spot turtles, a library book ready and waiting, a whole house to pretend was mine. The lesson is that you cannot get away from your failures. Or the lesson is that you should always be reminded of your failures so you can grow from them. Or maybe the lesson is that coincidences are just that, coincidences. Or, better yet, there is no lesson. She lives there; so does my mom; life goes on.
I liked being away. While it’s true I didn’t do much writing, I did get a burst of motivation our last afternoon and I completed the second draft of a short story I’ve been carrying around for months. It has a new title. It’s gained at least five pages (and is probably now too long). But it’s closer to what I want from it, which makes me a bit happier. And it was fitting that I finished the draft of the story there, because the story is set upstate, so while I was tinkering with the revision I was staring out the sliding glass doors at the wall of trees that surrounded the house, just as a wall of trees surrounded the house in my story.
So here I am, Monday morning, quite bluntly my least favorite moment of the entire week, in my usual morning chair, writing this post while a man raves loudly to himself across the way, yelling at no one, yelling at everyone, and the rain pours, and soon it will be time to get on the subway, and already my shirt and pants are soaked, but I’m not annoyed, not depressed, really. I’m okay. The weekend made me okay. I hope it lasts.