the juggling, the balls

It snowed last night. As I stood by the gas pump in the dark, pelted by icy snow, I thought, as I do every year: “This will be my last winter here.” 

Every year, we talk about moving. There are times we talk about somewhere warmer - somewhere further south or west. Sometimes, we consider New York, which still to me even after decades, seems a kind of returning home. But every spring, the giddy daffodils, the drifts of forsythia, the lengthening days and I am again as if in the throes of early love, brimming with stupid hope, the winter’s cruelties forgotten. Surely, there must be a cure for such chronic forgetting. 

The writing has slowed. I have reached my first challenge in my adapted nanowrimo. I don’t yet know this character I am trying to write. I don’t yet know this father. The first rush of words came easily. I was putting down the broadest strokes. The major arcs. This next section is about the father and there are things that I simply have not yet had the time to know. The new words come, but in a slow trickle. 

In order not to lose momentum, I read. Erratically, promiscuously. (“You are promiscuous in your interests,” I was told once. He said: “I don’t mean that to be unflattering.” I said: “Oh, then perhaps you could have used a more flattering word?”)

Speedboat is there on the desk, of course. For form. The Kiss for the breathless scenes of daughter reunited with estranged father. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept for desire teetering on madness. Madness, Rack, and Honey for craft - infuriating, painstaking craft. The Rings of Saturn for sentences, for pacing. 

And then the new stack, waiting to be read, some of the recent birthday’s bounty: Junot Diaz, Nick Flynn, Carole Maso, Ben Lerner. The Collected Letters of Samuel Beckett. 

And Proust, of course, for Proust Group. I am so far behind. 

My daughter talks about her anxiety over her various activities on the way home from school and I find myself slipping into soapbox mode, droning on about how many things she is juggling (I actually hear myself say: “You have all these balls in the air.”) and how she will need to make choices or she will have to learn to live with the discomfort of knowing that some will be dropped. “You can either become comfortable with juggling all these balls knowing there will be times that you will drop some, or you have to decide to put some down.”

I stand by this advice, in principle, but there must be a better metaphor. 

M. and I talk through plot this morning at breakfast and so I feel better. I think I know what I need to do next. While it might not feel like progress in the same way that the early pages did, the way they came in a rush as if all I had to do was get them down, (“That will never happen again,” he says laughing.) it feels like a thing to do, an important thing to do, while waiting. 

See you tomorrow. xoxo