Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” On the first of each month, Catching Days hosts a guest writer in the series, “How We Spend Our Days.”
Today, please welcome writer JEFF G. PETERS
The Early Morning: Get Moving!
I’m awake just before six and take a look out the second-floor window, where I can view the colorful birds singing and flying through the trees and across the rooftops. From this upstairs window I can see the glorious Pilgrim Monument, the top of Provincetown Library (one of the coolest libraries anywhere! Don’t miss the second floor…). My gaze shifts to Pantone blue skies and marshmallow clouds. I take in the renovation progress at the Fine Arts Work Center. Workshops and readings are going to be extraordinary when FAWC reopens to the public.
I make my way downstairs for a cup of coffee. It seems like a day for the Intenso blend of Nespresso coffee. That should give me a boost! A bowl of cereal with fresh fruit and organic milk rounds out the meal (with rare exception, this is what I have every morning).
At the same time, I’m reading emails to East End Books Ptown. A sampling of the emails: author book event inquiries; book blurb and indie next list requests; new book orders to be fulfilled; my latest bookstore newsletter; book event confirmations for A Night of Poetry, Music and Prose with Patricia Spears Jones, and Hanif Abdurraqib—a special National Poetry Month event being held April 28th. Super coverage of the event from both of the major newspapers in town.
Among the emails: people asking about tickets for the Christopher Castellani “Leading Men” & Matthew Lopez “The Inheritance” Literary Salon. I’m doing a benefit for the Provincetown International Film Festival. The salon and dinner will be at Strangers & Saints, an award-winning gastro pub with delicious food and libations. I am thrilled and grateful that this salon is happening. It took many months of planning to put it all together. My friend Chris Castellani’s Leading Men is a magical novel that takes an intimate look at Tennessee Williams, Frank Merlo and others—in Italy, Key West, Provincetown… It’s being made into a movie, and award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez is writing the screenplay. Award-winning producer Peter Spears (Nomadland, Call Me by Your Name) is producing the movie.
Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance is one of the best plays I’ve seen in years. I’m told I have sold the largest number of copies of The Inheritance in the country. This is a brilliant play! I was at a small dinner party with Tony Kushner before the play opened in London in 2018. Tony said I should jump on a plane and go see it. I promptly did and saw Parts I & II on consecutive evenings. I couldn’t sleep either night—filled up with emotion. I also saw the play in 2019 on Broadway with some close friends from Ptown.The Inheritance is inspired by Howard’s End and traces of that novel are interspersed throughout with E.M. Forster appearing among the cast of characters as they’re trying to “speak their truth.” This play touched me deeply and made me feel recognized and valued as a gay man, and part of not only a great LGBTQ family but also a larger community of straight allies and friends.
I start working on getting new book events onto our website, Eventbrite, Zoom, Facebook & Instagram and continue to promote events already scheduled. Social media takes up a lot of my time every day. But I don’t mind, since I get great joy from promoting books I love and helping connect readers with books and authors.
Mid-Morning: Edit, Edit, Edit!
I pause to edit some poems from a forthcoming manuscript. Then I switch to my novel in progress, Lindo Gaumont Enters the World. I’m working on a section set at the Gaumont Publishing offices in Paris and also in Santorini, Greece. Incorporating some edits suggested by one of my favorite writers, Reif Larsen “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” ”I Am Radar.”
I check the bookstore email again for book orders, event inquires, and general questions.
A book delivery arrives with more signed copies of my friend Trent Preszler’s brilliant new memoir Little and Often. The book is out on April 27th. Trent was kind enough to give us the national exclusive for signed copies. Every day I prepare and package the orders and ship them out. Trent has a big social media following, and it’s been wonderful to see how excited people are to get their signed copy.
I need a burst of energy. Solution: A strong espresso!
Back to working on my novel…
Then… I pause to take my Apple dance exercise course. I rotate between Jhon, LaShawn & Ben. Thirty minutes and then a Mindful Cooldown with Dustin …
Noon: The Movies!
I was absolutely thrilled to be in a cinema again today—Waters Edge Cinema—after about one and a half years!!! This was a private screening for ONE!
I watched the first episode of the great new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small (aired on PBS this year). Though I’ve seen every episode seven or eight times… never on the big screen! Then I got to see again, End of the Century—the beautiful Spanish film that was a big hit at the Provincetown Film Festival in 2019. Filled with absolute joy!
Mid-afternoon: Three Junes
I have a conference call with several people who may join me in adapting Three Junes by Julia Glass as a movie or limited series. Julie won the National Book Award for this gem of a novel in 2002. Since first reading this gorgeous book, I have dreamed of adapting it into a movie or series! I have acquired the legal rights from my friend Julie Glass to move the project forward. Fingers crossed…
Three Junes is one of my favorite books, re-read many times since 2002! A complex, sweeping family saga that takes you from Scotland, to Greece, Greenwich Village, the Hamptons… And I can definitely identify with aspects of the character of Fenno, the eldest, an introspective gay man and bookseller. “In prose rich with compassion and wit, Three Junes paints a haunting portrait of love’s redemptive powers.” This is definitely a book you should read, and one that you will fall in love with!
Late-afternoon: The Beach
Boy, do I need to exercise! I decide to get myself to Herring Cove Beach and go for a long walk. A bit cool, but lovely sun, deep blue skies. With the exception of one other person, it’s just me and the wildlife. I listen to The Slowdown, an inspiring Podcast by the Poet Tracy K. Smith. The sun is beginning to set toward Hatches Harbor and Race Point Beach, and I’ve positioned myself at the perfect spot to take it all in. A poem comes to mind, and I take out my journal (almost always have one with me) and the writing flows. That’s a relief! It’s often more of a struggle!
I also start reading a book that comes out next year, which I’ve been asked to blurb.
Evening: Wine, Tapas & More
I have an evening ritual that I undertake most nights. Tapas and a glass of good red wine, followed by dinner. Tonight, I make lobster pasta with vegetables and garlic Naan bread.
Time to take the trash and recycling out. I make sure the lids are tight so that the foxes don’t dine in the yard!
Check emails again….
Now some downtime… I watch the Swiss-German film, Beyto, which is screening virtually as part of the OutShine Film Festival. Have I exercised enough to have some gelato? Let’s say YES! Perhaps a Cognac as well?
THOSE SAME 3 QUESTIONS…
1. What one word best describes your writing life?
2. What book is on your night table now and why?
- I am always reading multiple books at the same time. Since I opened East End Books Ptown, I read even more books continuously! The books currently on the night table: Own It by Diane Von Furstenberg This is a second read of my friend’s inspirational book. Home is Where YOU Queer Your Heart by Miah Jeffra and others. I’m friends with several of the contributors. My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew. I didn’t get a chance to read this before the pub date. It’s a collection of essays and illustrations, divided into phases of the sky and “serves as a loyal companion for life’s curveballs.” An invaluable resource! Items for Browsing: The Monocle Book of Gentle Living—a guide to slowing down, enjoying more and being happy. This is the latest edition. I love the books, magazines and travel guides. We sell them at the bookstore. Thinking & Eating: Recipes to Nourish & Inspire—always looking for good recipes and inspiration! Konfekt—the sister publication to Monocle Magazine. I’m reading the first issue to decide if we’ll carry it at the bookstore—once it’s available for distribution. It’s billed as, “the magazine for sharp dressing, drinking, dining, travel & design.” Yes—all of these PLEASE!
3. What is your strangest reading or writing habit?
- Strangest reading habit: I still can’t write in a book, not even an ARC (advance reader copy). You’ll find yellow sticky notes in a number of my books. I also take notes in one of my many notebooks.
- AIDS: A Comprehensive Manual of Legal & Policy Issue (out of print)