Revision, and how it sucks. And dogs. Always dogs.


The view from Anam Cara

So, here I am at Anam Cara, on the Beara Peninsula, in southwest Ireland. Anam Cara is a writers and artists retreat. You can see it here. This is my last stop before coming home, which is good, because I am tired. Not so much physically as that museum-tired you get after you’ve looked at too much art in one day. Over-stimulated. You hit the wall. (Privileged much?)

The country around here is beautiful, with green, rocky hills, and around every turn of the very windy, very narrow roads there’s another beautiful view. (And I’ve photographed every. single. one. Seriously. Come over sometime.)

I am once again struggling with an essay, which I guess in writer-language is called, “revising.” This is the piece about Scotland I’ve written about here before. I got some feedback on it from an editor I’m working with . . . and now I’m doing all this freewriting trying to get at the answers to the couple of questions she asked. It’s like when your therapist asks you the hard questions, and then doesn’t let you get away with the easy answers.

But, as luck would have it (luck, and having a very talented friend who blogs about her own writing process (That’s you, SKG.), I read these paragraphs just today—an hour ago—in her blog and had a little epiphany:

So my idea was that my play . . . is actually, essentially, about the seductive nature of narrative: how we are pulled in by other people’s stories, aroused by them, changed by them. How we try to adopt narratives, live inside them; how narrative sometimes saves us, but often fails us.

Having this little idea helped with my characters’ dialogue today. What stories did they want, or need, to tell? And what would be the consequences of those stories — as lived, and having been told?

Especially the part in red. That’s what my Scotland essay is about. (And, incidentally, SKG’s paragraph above pretty much wraps up my dissertation in a more concise, articulate way than I have thus far been able to do.)

You can (and should) read SKG’s blog here. Seriously. Especially if you create in any way. She is my idol, my role model for how to be a teacher AND a writer, and a thoughtful human being. And I’m going to steal her Artist in Residency idea.

But back to Anam Cara. Or Ireland in general. Last night I went to hear Anne Carson read her work at the West Cork Literary Festival. One of my new friends here at Anam Cara very kindly drove us to Bantry, which is about an hour away, where the reading was. (In another post, I will write about my apparent inability to stop flinching and/or outright gasping while in the car with someone who is driving on the left side of the road.) I would publicly thank her, but she’s kind of here incognito. She’s an Irish poet, and often writes in haiku. Anyway, in one of those “small world” moments, Carson talked about the writer John Cage, and so did SKG today in her blog. So of course I’m ordering his books so they’ll be on my doorstep when I get home next week. Sometimes the universe speaks. Or the sky. Whatevs.

Carson was extraordinary. She read this piece that was written as an autobiography of the sky, using the structure of the book of Genesis. And it was filled (filled!) with literary and scientific and political references that make me think Carson is the kind of person who reads AND absorbs. And who has read EVERYTHING in the world. And it made me wonder where the hell my brain was while I was in high school (and part of college, if we’re being honest—Okay, all of college). But Carson’s references all worked and made sense and added layers, and the sky, as the narrator, had a rather dry sense of humor. Carson’s delivery was perfect. (There is something about her that reminds me of Young Sheldon.) There was even an interview with Godot, about, as you can imagine, the non-arriving. You can actually hear a version of Carson’s reading here.

What else? It is July 16 and how the fuck did that happen? My brain stalled somewhere in June.

And I miss my girlies. A lot. And you, dear readers, if you follow me on Insta or FB, probably miss them too. You know you miss the photos. Be honest. Scout and Dill enhance your life. Way more than this blog post does.








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