Walked the dog. Did both crossword puzzles, more or less. And I’m back to editing after a hiatus — easier than going back to writing after a pause, but still a hurdle.
Fall routines in progress here. We put the hammock away. Brought the Christmas cacti inside. Started (the endless) raking.
It’s a meatloaf or chili kind of day, but I already cooked chicken thighs, so we’ll have them along with a bean salad featuring Rancho Gordo’s cassoulet bean.
I’ll admit to checking my phone EARLY today with a ghoulish anticipation. But, don’t get me wrong — I hope our president recovers. I really do. I live for the day when he is repudiated in a landslide election and then prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
To hear Deb tell it, a cutter was coming my way. It was too this and not enough that but feel free, you know, to chop it up.
Huh? I love it. As my mother might’ve said, “it’s a good transition piece.” And pockets to die for!
It’s a gorgeous day here in the Northeast. Sunny and warm. Our street is blocked off from whatever utility work the city’s doing, but the machinery’s still. I can hear the crickets and I can hear children on the playground.
Came down early this morning. Lit the fire table and worked on the laptop in order to change a bunch of Eliza’s reflective queries to statements. Sharp reader pointed out that the form got wearisome (to be frank, Eliza gets tiresome, too, but that’s a different issue).
I folded all the cloth in the front closet yesterday. Wow. It’s what most would consider a decent stash. For me, it’s just the stuff that wandered upstairs during a handful of projects. We might put a few little shelves in there.
Shelves! Long desired! Functional! Simple!
Minors forms of progress feel so necessary right now.
I “attended” a three hour seminar with Anne Lamott this weekend. I’ll probably be talking about it for a while. She went over many of the tools explicated in her famous book on writing, Bird by Bird, but first let me say how happy I was to hear that she includes research in writing time!
Here’s a little taste of the rabbitholeI went down this week for my novel.
“Wherever Africans were enslaved in the world, there were runaways who escaped permanently and lived in free independent settlements. These people and their descendants are known as “maroons.” The term probably comes from the Spanish cimarrón, meaning feral livestock, fugitive slave or something wild and defiant.”
Smithsonian article about The Great Dismal Swamp and its long history of maroon communities. Written September 2016 by Richard Grant featuring the archeology of the intrepid Dan Sayers.
“By downplaying American marronage, and valorizing white involvement in the Underground Railroad, historians have shown a racial bias, in Sayers’ opinion, a reluctance to acknowledge the strength of black resistance and initiative.”
It is well known that researching the history of enslaved people is difficult. For one thing, primary sources are few and far between.Then there’s white ignorance and racial animus in creating secondary sources.
Even in the instance of the Federal Writers’ Project, which collected first person accounts from Blacks who had lived under slavery, the narratives are inherently unreliable because they were recorded by white people.
Think: white person with a clipboard.
Think: Black person talking to a white person with a clipboard.
Even with the best of intentions, we can assume that white minds listening to Black thoughts and speech applied some kind of filter. And we can also assume that Black speakers shaped what they said in some way because of their white audience.
Enslaved people had little by way of possessions. A community in a remote swamp likely owned or collected even less than those dwelling “on the street” (a common naming for a collection of slave quarters).
Slave communities are nevertheless of great interest to archeologists, as evidenced by Dan Sayers in this article and by recent excavations at Monticello and Mount Vernon.
My research has also turned up references to maroon communities in the swamps north and west of Charles Town. It seems that these groups may have initially been comprised of Natives, who then welcomed fugitive slaves. The Smithsonian article posits the idea that whites fleeing indentured servitude also found their way to some of these remote areas.
Update on Second Edit of my novel: the sagging middle is getting slashed (good example of another thing Lamott talked about, the famous advice to “kill your darlings”) and the ending is being expanded.
I’m back to the pin board for the final year of chronology. (Lamott also uses this visual trick, by the way, though she described taping pieces of paper around her entire living room).
It’s important to have a map of your story SOMEWHERE. I’m not adept enough to keep it all in my head. For some stretches, this pin board had every chapter pinned to it, color-coded by POV. After a while the directory in Word on my laptop served as an outline, because I put each chapter in a separate word doc and used a consistent naming protocol that arranged them chronologically.
Right now I’m working on two large documents so until I resurrected the pin board it was a little like flying blind.
A second edit is so, so important, Lamott said, so much so that she won’t show her work to anyone until she’s done one. (oops!)
Before the second edit comes what she calls “the shitty first draft.” That’s a liberating shorthand for all kinds of things, but perhaps mostly as encouragement to forgo perfectionism or debilitating ideas about inspiration.
Another way to say it, she shared, is from Nike: Just Do It.
The heat has been brutal. Today a little less so. Do you know what it’s like walking a dog on paved sidewalks in 97 degree heat?
And lastly, I call yesterday a good day. How unfamiliar the sensation of relief twinnedwith hope! Biden and Harris both gave great speeches. You can view on YouTube (August 12).
Sitting down right now at the laptop with a boiled egg, coffee, and commitment that might be described as fierce. Got to get through the next chunk of manuscript where very severe cuts will be required. Hurm hurm (Harley sound effect).
Many other words could be called upon to describe this day, this cold and blustery Earth Day, this Day 42 of Containment, but I must conserve. Besides, I don’t want to make you crazy with all my robe-making changes of mind. So here is a story of the morning in pictures.
PS Acey I haven’t forgotten that I promised you a copy of that picture of Prince!
PPS I’ve gained 15 pounds since making my card stock body model in a class of Jude’s some time ago, but that should only impact boob-sizing and with a loose robe, even that isn’t critical.
Gorgeous print of Harriet Tubman painting by South Carolinian artist Natalie Daise aka @gullahmama on Instagram. Her work is gorgeous and her prices really, really reasonable.
Alright, so I lied. I am busy procrastinating in full-throated style! But before I go, some thanks are in order.
First, I want to thank Nancy for so sweetly gathering up her threads and shipping them to me from California. The package is decontaminating in the garage and right now all I really care about is that she gets well!
Also, thank you Joanne. There is something about the steadiness of her day by day reporting that I find so reassuring right now. It doesn’t hurt that she talks about food even more than I do! Tonight, based on something mentioned there, I’ll be making chili. Thank you Joanne.
Lastly, to all who weighed in on the backyard — thank you. To be continued!
The collage featuring flower, radicchio, cross, desert, and cell phone was made while Iran contemplated howto retaliate.
Finished reading Olive, Again.Finished reviewing friend’s manuscript.Swapped pageswith another writer/friend, so I have another bit of writing to review. Started tracking water consumption again (did you know you ought to be drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces a day?) Fabric for crib quilt in the washer.
PS. I have absolutely no idea why the font is going wonky here. Any more than I had a clue as to why comments were turned off or Michelle sent to spam.If onlyIdidn’thave to find and input serial numbers for a re-install Iwould’ve done it already.