Friday, June 8, 2007

Footsteps on Grass

Once I was a speaker at a book festival in South Carolina, where I met Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club, which was about to come out. Karen told me that to write the book, she had gone to a writers' colony. She said, "They leave your lunch in a basket outside your cabin door." My eyes widened, and my mouth fell open. She went on, "They don't even knock; they don't want to disturb you." I shook my head in amazement.

Here, there's no lunch left by my door. Not even close. I have a goal for the completion of this book, and it's just a few days away. So I decided that I'd just let the laundry pile up and not go grocery shopping. We can recycle our jeans and live on takeouts. I had my priorities straight. Writing comes first! I did not even see the trash piling up in the wastebaskets or the dishes collecting in the sink. But my plan fell apart when we ran out of clean underpants. I had to do laundry--many, many loads of it. And it seems that I forgot all about the party. What party? The party at our house tomorrow night for my husband's lab, preparation for which will involve cleaning the whole house, buying paper goods, and making two entrees for about 20 people. Oh, that party!

Meanwhile, the book? It was all set a couple of weeks ago. It really didn't even need me very much anymore. It was practically ready to dismiss me. It just needed a couple of more chapter breaks and some transition smoothing, easy stuff. But a funny thing happened when I was fixing up my chapter openers. The point of the book changed. Yeah, it's different now, which means a bunch of scenes that were going one way are going to have to turn around and come back. The whole idea is a little more subtle now, a little more complex, and it will take a little more time. It's that shape shifting thing books do when you think you've got them figured out and then they turn into something else. But that's OK. That's cool. I'm good. I'm just following my intuition here, as I get up a little earlier and stay up a little later.

Sometimes, not every day or anything, but just every once in a while, I think longingly about footsteps approaching silently on grass, a basket being placed in front of my door, followed by footsteps silently retreating.


mimi k said...

First- welcome to the blog world! And second, I've known people who went to that picnic basket on your doorstep artistic utopia/eden- it is one of my fantasies to go there. Ah, dreams!

Julie Kibler said...

How bizarre...I was at the library just this morning and took that book (Jane Austen Book Club) down from the shelf to look at it. I didn't check it out because my hands were already full, but what a coincidence!

It's hard, also, when the other adults around you don't have the ability to "let things go." My husband is not normal, I don't think. He has the clean gene, so I feel guilty when he's going around doing all his routine stuff, PLUS the stuff I'm letting go. Sigh. :-) I know I need to let him deal with that sometimes, but still, it's hard.

Hope things go well with the book on the other side of the party!

Cher said...

oh, I enjoyed the book Jane Austen Book Club-how fun to meet the author, and ...I can totally relate to that shape shifting happens with quilt making too! Bonnie linked you and so I have found your blog-it's great reading-thanks for putting in the time to post blog entries!