In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard wrote,
I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
On the first of each month, a guest writer shares how he or she spends the day.
August 1, 2013: Nichole Bernier
[1st chapter spoiler alert] By the end of the first chapter of Nichole Bernier’s debut novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., we know that Kate’s friend Elizabeth was killed in a plane crash and that, instead of naming her husband as the trustee of her journals, Elizabeth named Kate. This first chapter is a beauty. In just five pages of elegant prose lie the seeds of the entire novel. And although I loved Chapter One the first time I read it, I could only truly appreciate it after I had finished reading the book.
Its strong first sentence sets the tone.
The George Washington Bridge had never been anything but strong and beautiful, its arches monumental, cables thin and high.
The word strong is repeated throughout the novel, as early as three sentences later, in the first sentence of the second paragraph–repetition working its magic to conjure a world out of words.
[Kate] tried to imagine feeling really known.
About Elizabeth, Kate thinks:
The single greatest point of interest about a woman’s thirty-eight years was not what she had done, but what she hadn’t told anyone she’d done.
Kate, visualizing the hand-knitted afghan that belonged to the owners of the summer house her family is renting, thinks:
Everything had a story. Every word, it seemed, every small gesture, was the result of something that had moved someone, or moved her to pretend as if it hadn’t.
Adding to the coherence of this new world, each thread in the novel speaks to others. In Elizabeth’s journal (set in italics in the novel), she writes about moving into a place of her own for the first time.
There are no pieces of me scattered anywhere else anymore.
You can find Nichole’s essay on The Point of the Paperback at The Millions.
Come back on AUGUST 1st to read how Nichole Bernier spends her days.
The next writer in the series is announced around the 8th of each month–so you can read ahead!