Friday at 4:55 am, Valros.

We left Providence nearly a week ago today. Took the bus to the airport, then the six-hour flight. With the six-hour time difference, we landed in the early morning, lingered in the airport a while for our rental to be ready. Travel is always a bit disorienting. I find myself tired all the time.

It is hard to know how to be here. I have goals and hopes for the time, some of which are perhaps unrealistic. The whole trip seems so decadent, three weeks to write. But of course, in the end, the hours are frittered a bit with the dailiness of simply living. Getting groceries, preparing meals, cleaning up. 

The mornings are glorious. Three hours of uninterrupted time. For most of it, I write by hand in one of the many notebooks I’ve brought. I feel as though my practice back home makes the mornings the easiest to know how to use. It’s a time I know well. My body knows how to spend it. After that, it feels a bit more challenging to give shape to the day. 

I’m revisiting Speedboat, which I have found useful for this particular project. The energy and propulsiveness of its sentences and rhythms. I’ve brought Flowers of Mold by Ha Seong-Nan, which I’m reading a bit at a time. In many ways what I am working on is a war book, and so I re-read Slaughterhouse Five, which I didn’t think to bring myself, but serendipitiously, M did. Started listening (and following along on kindle) to James Salter’s The Hunters, about a fighter pilot in the Korean War. 

Mostly, I am working on this novel draft. Trying to make it through a draft without too many preconceptions about how it will go. Right before I left home, I got word that I’ve made it to the second stage of a grant for a different, wildly ambitious project and so I will need to spend some time on that application. They are looking for a few more work samples and a timeline. On the first couple days here, I tried to spend the mornings on the novel and the afternoons on the application, but I think I’d like a few days to focus on one thing at a time. These little adjustments, the moments of not knowing exactly what to do next stir up a bit of anxiety. I don’t want to squander this time. 

Today’s goals and intentions:

  • Take note of the light this morning.

  • Three hours of notes on the manuscript. 

  • This afternoon, begin transcribing what I’ve written so far into a document, editing while I go. 

With all best intentions, by late afternoon, it’s difficult for me to want to work. I want a glass of wine with a bit of bread and cheese. There’s pleasure in preparing a simple dinner for all of us to have together. A little time to clean up and then to watch movies or play games. 

I want also, of course, to spend time seeing the region, being here. Mostly, we’ve run a few errands in town. Wandered through our tiny village. Visited what we were told was the best bakery in Pezenas, the next town over. It did not disappoint. We took a long walk along Via Domitia through vineyards. This weekend, perhaps a ride to the beach? We are twenty minutes from the coast. The challenge is, when I am writing, a little part of me thinks I should be exploring. When I am doing anything other than writing, I feel like I should not be. I think mostly, I have to make peace with the discomfort. It is, after all, a gift to be here, in this place, for this time. That seems important to hold on to, most of all.