I’ve written two beginnings here. One was a beginning for a book I’d already started, but I backed up and started anew here, so all the words found in that new opening are words I found here. The second of the two beginnings I’ve written here is for an entirely other book. I had zero pages of it before I got here, just an idea. I just emailed 40 pages to E to read. I was hoping the book would let itself out while here and it did—and now it won’t stop. I had to show someone sooner rather than later before I write myself into a deep lake and can’t swim back up. One of the books I’ve started here is younger, and one is older. One is in one girl’s voice, one is in another. These books each have equal parts of my imagination at the moment, like I’ve given birth to a set of completely different and entirely distinctive twins.
Feeling sick at a writers colony is a strange thing. You shouldn’t be sick here, because this is not the real world here. Here, you forget the meaning of money and you forget what it’s like to work. Your health should follow suit. But one night I didn’t feel well, so after dinner I decided to take a nice hot bath. In real life I’m not used to taking baths. I never take baths. I filled the tub, got in, and it was warm and luxurious and beautifully relaxing. Right now I am in a bathtub, I thought to myself, I am in a bathtub HERE, of all places. I found that to be hysterical. It cheered me up immensely. Even feeling ill at the writers colony takes on an air of the surreal.
But the day after the bath, I got to see E. This is love: He took a four-hour train ride up to see me because I wanted him to visit me halfway through. He was here. I’m so happy he got to see me here.
I had a mocha at a coffee shop in town, my first mocha of my stay. I stood near the counter and took a long-awaited sip. My joy at this taste of mocha, after being mochaless for about two weeks, could not be held in and kept quiet. This mocha rivaled my own at my beloved café at home. I squealed aloud, likely embarrassing the person with me. There are no mochas at writers colonies… at least none that I’ve been to. They care for you like you’re not cared for in real life, but it’s not like you get assigned a bedroom, a studio, and a barista.
I was standing, near midnight, under the trees talking about how I don’t have the compulsion anymore to share my random shit with the world the way I used to. Without Twitter and Facebook constantly at my fingertips, I realize I don’t have to tell you every little thing. Maybe only some things. Maybe one thing a day? We’ll see how long this lasts, once I’m home. As of tomorrow, I have just one week left.
Reading Pages Aloud to Yourself
Here now, and for only the days I’m here, I can do something I’m never able to do in my real writing life: read my writing out loud while I’m writing it. I can close my door. And I can type a paragraph and read it back to myself, the words on the air changing the words on the page. Since I write in the city I can’t do this in real life—there are people everywhere. I forgot how well this works, how good it feels.
Reading Pages Aloud to Other People
The opening pages of Imaginary Girls were read in front of human beings for the first time ever in my life this week. In a drawing room. Under lamp light. Our benefactor, the woman who founded this colony, looked on from her portrait over the fireplace as I read. Or it seemed like she was anyway… her eyes follow you wherever you are in the room. So, from now on, come far-off Summer ’11, when I get to read from Imaginary Girls again once, you know, it’s an actual book I can hold in my hands, I’ll remember the first time these words were ever uttered aloud before a group of people: here in this place I’ve been lucky to go to, Spring ’10.