Wednesday, October 17, 2012

25 random things about macdowell too

Calderwood: heated floors and charming bugs.
Last night I started reading 2500 Random Things About Me Too, a compilation/explosion of lists from that Facebook meme that went around a few years ago, by my former CalArts professor Matias Viegener. You might think that would make for a terrible book, especially if you’ve seen how blogs and Tumblrs and other internet phenomena have been turned into disappointing books that get sold at Urban Outfitters. But you’d be wrong.

I’ll have more to say about Matias’s book—which is as warm and friendly as it is skeptical of narrative—when I’m finished, but for now I just want to blog about (full) Day 1 at MacDowell in random-list form.

1. Lunch arrived in a picnic basket with “Calderwood,” the name of my cottage/studio, painted on the lid.

2. It was tuna salad with capers and faro. Faro! It tastes like peasant food in the best way.

3. I think that when people get stuck, they reach for food, both literally and literarily. Mangoes and grapefruit are making a lot of appearances in Matias’s book.

4. The floor in my studio is heated.

5. My studio is at least as big as AK’s and my house, but with no AK and no cats. It’s all for me. This is good for writing and bad in the other ways.

6. I told AK that there must be a cat around here that I could borrow for a couple of weeks. If not, I might kidnap one of the chickens on the property.

7. I’m going to start writing what I came here to write…any…minute…now.

8. I think about caffeine like an addict. Mostly I’m going to totally stop while I’m here. But it’s the first day! Just a cup of tea to get me started. Oh, and they included a thermos of coffee in my picnic basket.* I don’t want to be rude by not drinking it.

9. I feel like a kid at Disneyland. I can’t settle down and enjoy any one thing because there is too much to enjoy. I just sort of have to run around and touch it all.

10. I just opened a document called “CharsAndStyleDraft1 02-10-12” that lists all the characters in the YA novel I’m here to work on. I was like, Who are these people? Luckily it’s annotated: “Aiden Jayne—Miranda’s boyfriend, football douche.”

11. I’ve definitely had too much caffeine.

12. For the record, my novel is not about football douches, or the girls who date them. Or the nerds who resent them. I think we’ve all heard enough on those subjects. Yes, high school is a microcosm of society, and it’s very important when you’re sixteen, but kids have whole lives that happen outside of school, and sometimes those outside goings-on make high school politics seem like a luxury.

13. My studio is full of these big brown bugs with long legs and black markings on their backs. I think they can fly. Because they live in my charming cottage in charming New Hampshire, I find them charming. It’s not fair. Cockroaches are really admirable when you think about it, but I hate them.

14. I’m trying to decide whether I should reread my YA novel from the beginning (apparently I wrote thirteen chapters already?), which would be the responsible thing to do, or just reread my outline and jump into the writing part, which is what the caffeine is telling me to do.

15. I think you know which I’m going to choose.

16. I’m scared I’ll start to like this life, and it will be hard to go back to writing at Starbucks for one hour a day.

17. Kind of like how, in college, I shared a room for as long as I could, because I knew that once I paid for my own bedroom, there would be no turning back.

18. But I like to think of myself as resilient. If I had to do a lot of things, I could. Whenever people say, “I could never ______,” it’s insulting to the people who are doing _____. Like they’re sharing a room just because poverty comes naturally to them.

19. I’ve been writing for a little while now. I got sort of excited, then I talked to AK on the phone and started worrying, just a little, about whether Ollie will get confused if he doesn’t get fed at the times I normally feed him, and will run away forever. Then it was hard to start writing again.

20. But I did/am anyway.

21. A composer I met earlier today is walking in the meadow outside my window. Is he stuck? Or is he hearing amazing melodies in his head?

22. How someone composes a piece of music is just about as mysterious to me as a thing can be. I could design a house as easily as I could compose a song. They would be equally unstable structures.

23. Leaves are falling. Joe Bills, the guy who drove me here from Boston yesterday, told me about how a dead squirrel fell onto the hood of his car recently. It was walking across a telephone wire one minute, dead the next. We should all go so quickly.

24. I wrote 1,573 words. I’m feeling good about roughly nine hundred of them.

25. No, that’s not really how I look at it. I sort of said that to be clever. Really, most of the words themselves are okay. It’s how they fit into the project as a whole that feels like looking into a canyon full of scorpions.


*During the kitchen tour, they asked, “Do you want coffee?” I apparently said, “Yes.”

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