2010: The new year begins in the deep snow of Vermont. I stay in the dorm, wear my first pair of snow boots, and vow not to waste any more years writing novels that don’t sell. I will go shorter. And I start something new that has hold of me rather than the other way around. But every time it threatens to get bigger, I shut it down. Not only do I ferry Nan and Gay Talese from and back to the Atlanta Airport, but Gay is hot to watch a football game so they end up at our house. February brings several inches of snow to Columbus, a spa trip with Pam to Santa Fe’s Ten Thousand Waves, where I stay in an adorable little airstream trailer called Silver Moon that doesn’t exist anymore, a workshop with Robin Black on the Jersey shore, and a family visit to Jack in California, with a side trip to Disneyland. In March, Obamacare becomes law, and Cal and I go back to Sirenland–more steps, more of the brothers, and Ron Carlson’s class instead of Dani’s. On the day we talk about my piece in class, the first thing Ron says is, “Well, this is certainly a story that wants to be a novel.” I tell Dani, and she says, “Some people are just novelists.” On the way home, we spend the night in Rome, and I get violently ill, which leads to the wrong boarding pass the next day. I’m unsure whether I can fly, but I finally make it to the right plane only to have to de-plane due to mechanical difficulties. I then spend an extra night at an airport hotel. These days, Cal and I fly on separate planes, and he doesn’t know I’m still in Rome until he lands in the U.S. The iPad comes out, I take Sam to Florida for spring break, and I visit Jack again. I’m trying to get used to contacts, but I have such trouble getting the damn things in. Every month a packet is due for school. Cal and I go see James Taylor and Carole King in Atlanta on their Troubadour Reunion Tour. June 29th is our 25th wedding anniversary, but I’m in Vermont at the summer residency, where one day, I drive to Ferrisburgh to visit my old French Camp that is now a state park. When I sit still on the porch of the old infirmary, it’s like I can feel the past. My first novel places on the Short List for Finalists in the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and my second novel places as a Semi-Finalist. In September, I go back to Pam’s ranch, and Bobby goes back to St. Andrews. In October I join the staff at Contrary as Review Editor. Kathleen is pregnant! It actually snows on Christmas Day in Atlanta. 50 books this year, with the highlights being Alexander Chee’s Edinburgh and Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees, which, as soon as I finish it, I start again. I email Annie and she emails me back. And then, listening to Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris sing All the Roadrunning, I’m back in Vermont where the year began.
She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life
I’m impressed by how well you remember the details of all your years. Getting sick on holiday is no fun.
I never kept a journal but I have photos and some calendars and lots of lists to help me reconstruct the years. And sometimes current events will prompt a memory. And music!
And some people are just short story writers! I am nursing a dream to become a mystery novelist–I just can’t shake that pull–but I suspect it’s not in my bones. I’m glad you’ve stuck with novels, they suit you and the way you see the world.
I should read The Maytrees, then? I’m working up quite a list….
Snow in Georgia on Christmas feels like some kind of miracle. I remember only ONE snow on Christmas in VA when I was growing up, and that was only flurries. Here it’s not uncommon, of course, but always a deep pleasure. I do hope you can fall in love with Christmas again, Cyn.
Oh my gosh, yes to The Maytrees, that’s easy.
Interesting mention of Emmylou Harris, my creative muse! Wish these entries wouldn’t end. Great deal of fun to read.
I’ve always liked Emmylou Harris–and now I remember that Cal and I saw her in Columbus a long time ago. No idea what year. Leticia, it’s nice to know you’re out there reading!