It’s been a long time since I’ve read like I’ve been reading here at the writers colony. I’ve been reading quickly, and in bits, usually midday while I take a break for lunch, and sometimes around midnight to get myself sleepy enough to close my eyes and drift off. I never read so much at home; I think I feel guilty about it. Here, I feel no guilt. As I confessed below, I took eight books and eight books only in my suitcase. Since my last writing I’ve read five. Six if you include the dud—there is one book I’ve tried to read, twice now, and can’t get through it, I’m sorry, I’m giving up.
I joined the local library, just for the month. There, I found myself drifting to the YA section. I found myself near the S shelf. I found myself looking idly for I-don’t-know-what. Then I saw it. DANI NOIR. The idea of some girl in Saratoga Springs picking out this book to read out of all other books to read gave me a thrill. I left it where it was and didn’t tell the librarian who’d just given me my new, shiny library card that it was mine.
I sometimes take my notebook to the gardens, which are open to the public. On the way back up there are signs that say it’s private property past this spot. One day I started climbing the hill and walked on the lawn past the signs. I saw a couple below me. They looked up and watched me go. It seemed, for a moment, that they wanted to call out to me, “You’re not allowed up there! That’s for the artists!” To warn me. But I kept going and they decided not to yell. Maybe it seemed like I was allowed to be here after all.
Why come to a writers colony? To be alone with your work. To face it. No, really, to FACE IT. To have time for it, more time than maybe you even wanted. To struggle with it with hours to go till dinner and no one to keep you from it but yourself. To be taken care of. To look around and think, How is it that I’m worthy of being taken care of? But also: To be with others who are doing the same. To connect. To absorb. To enjoy it. To savor it. To make the most of it. To do here what you can do nowhere else.
When I realized I had just three weeks left here I began to pick up speed, even more so when I began to approach the mark of two weeks. I feel a sense of urgency. In real life, I have distractions. In real life, I have constant access to you, the internet. In real life, I will have freelance projects. In real life, I’ll have hard and fast writing deadlines—I am thinking of one in particular. In real life, I have responsibilities. Here, I have none. But it’s itching at me. Real life. Some days I forget.
I don’t know what it is about this place, but there’s something. Something is definitely here. Why else would I somehow, in a fit of energy, start typing on a Friday morning and look back on a Friday afternoon and realize I wrote 16 pages in one day? I’ve never written that much of a first draft in one day in my whole life.
I have two choices of getting upstairs to my rooms: (A) a wide white staircase rising up before a beautiful stained-glass window or (B) a narrow, dark, twisting staircase that I think was for the household help to use. Guess which staircase I always use?