Friday, June 29, 2007


I like legal pads. I have a habit of starting a list or a string of thoughts or a brainstorming on a legal pad, and using up 1-5 pp. of it, and then putting it aside. Because the next time I want to make a list (the Big List of Everything I Have to Do, for instance) I want a new surface. I don't like rolling the pages back to get at a new one. Hence, the pile of legal pads above, each of which had a few pages used, but which are now fresh (more or less) and ready to be used again.
All this makes me feel as if I'm getting organized, but it may be part of a vast illusion that I succumb to time and again.
Meanwhile, I have revised a story and sent it out--"Bring Sheaves of Corn and Poppies," which is a pretty pretentious title, but I was stuck. I sent it to the Missouri Review, which accepts online submissions. They charge you a fee ($3, I think) but it's well worth it, if you consider postage and the general annoyance of dealing with printing a copy and postage and going to the post office where Len the guy behind the counter looks at you knowingly (why doesn't this woman give up already?).

Monday, June 25, 2007

archaeology at home

I'm still at it, although the only actual cleaning done was my kleenex dusting as I moved the piles. I've been sifting down through the layers, and according to the sophisticated dating methods I'm using I can put the beginning of the Look at Later Pile at 10/3/2005 or thereabouts, using the note attached to the notebook I left at CVS as a guide.This was thoughtfully mailed back to me by the conscientious clerk, and it was on the pile because I was going to write her a note to thank her, but I left it go so long that I just did it when I went in to get a Snickers bar several weeks later.
The notebook was almost empty--it had a number of coupons stuffed into it (for Chico's, Origins, etc.), a ruler thanking me for giving money to the Knights of Columbus, a student schedule for Fall 05, and a handy list of produce highest and lowest in pesticide residue (pineapples good, peaches not). The only thing written inside was a cryptic note: "Leo Burdette's farm"--don't know Leo, or why I wanted to remember his farm.
I have two stacks of books: the Pile of Books I Want to Re-read
and the Pile of Books That Have Been Thoroughly Read and Need to be Put Away
But it's been so long since I read these last that I might read some of them again--you can't read To the Lighthouse too many times--and it's such a summer kind of book.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

cleaning up

All the long time I've been writing and revising my novel I haven't cleaned my desk, or the long table (formerly my mother's dining room table). I cleaned the office a bit, because my office is also a guest bedroom, but on the desk and the table I only pushed the piles of stuff farther away from the edge so they wouldn't be a temptation to Z and C when they're visiting.
But now I'm more or less finished, for now at least (note all those qualifiers!), so I'm cleaning. Some discoveries are good--a book I'd been looking for midway down the Pile of Things I Should Do But Not Right Now; some bad--in the Pile of Things I Should Look at Some Time or Other, I found a bill I hadn't paid.
I also found
-- a recipe for melon soup
--3 NY Times Book Reviews (old, older, and ancient)
--some copies of a story with comments from my writers group
--an envelope with a list that adjured me to clean up my email and decide something about the undergrad meeting
--reminder from my dentist
--one of my sister's poems, with the great title of "Sugar Off, Daddy"
--an envelope with the address of someone I intended to write to 6 months ago: sorry, Theresa
And I found a poem I'd clipped from the NYer by W.S. Merwin, called "To the Book":
Go on then
in your own time
this is far as I will take you
A kind of farewell and elegy for a book which has been written, but not finished:
of course you are not finished
how can you be finished
Merwin asks. Which was a good thing to find just now, after all this long time, although I don't know the answer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Amazingly, I've managed to cut more than 40,000 words. Who knew I was so good at hacking and burning? I give credit to the lifelong tutelage of S, my 1st and best critic: please take a bow.
Now onto last part, which has 2 components:
--fixing the fixy-up things, listed on legal pad; also should check old revising notes to see if I’ve missed anything.
--writing the new ghost sections; which includes deciding how many more and who they should be; also moving the one I took out of LT’s chapter.
Here’s the list:
--cut some more: tighten it up until it’s squeaky (it squeaks like a rusty gate; although somehow that is not a pleasing simile in connection with the work of one's heart)
--renumber chapters
--did I cut the Rose Lake chapter??? (no)
--backlight some of the stuff that shows up later (Isabel's money-making plans, eg)
--clean up little stuff

--do I need to cut some minor characters? (no; the only characters I cut was one of the 2 dogs)
---put in some more ghost voices
--new names for some chapters
--print it out and send to V
--ditto to S
--send to my agent