Returning To Old Habits

I’m house/kitty-sitting for a friend at her small studio in Santa Fe. Outside the sky is a blue I don’t have a name for and the cottonwoods along the Santa Fe River glow golden yellow. I came here after two weeks in Greece, a journey with my daughter, daughter-in-law, and our friend, to celebrate my birthday and for me to return to some of the places I’m writing about in my memoir. My time in Santa Fe is also a writing retreat and a time of solitude.

This morning, writing at a desk that faces outside where an apple tree offers up its ruby fruit for the birds, I wrote what I think might be the beginning of my memoir. Yesterday I wrote what might be the end. This may seem strange to write the ending before the beginning, but it’s not really. I started in the middle sixteen months ago and have been working toward the end ever since. Besides I’m still in notebook draft (notebook #9) and everything will probably change anyhow as I lift all this from notebook to computer and begin working with manuscript drafts, which will also be numbered and subject to change.

It feels good to be writing daily again after not all those days traveling around Greece. In fact I hardly even wrote in my journal while we were gone, which is really strange for me. I’m a daily journal writer. It’s how I have begun my days for decades. Journal, candle, cup of coffee (or two or more).

I forgot what it’s like to be a writer with a kitty accomplice. This kitty–Rumi–has much to say and doesn’t hesitate interrupting. But she also curls next to me as I write, especially when I sit on the daybed, and purrs. I haven’t lived with a kitty since my own Rumi was hit by a car five years ago. This may change when I return to San Diego. I like talking to someone besides myself. Sometimes cats even make a show like they’re listening.

Old habits that feel new again after a few weeks’ break. I’m even back to my morning yoga practice. My body says thank you.

What about your habits, writing and otherwise? Do you ever take a break from them? Do you find it difficult to return or does it feel like coming home again?

 

Day-by-Day

I’m watching the pumpkin fatten in the neighbor’s garden across the alley, I’m watching the spider’s web expand in the corner of my kitchen window, I’m watching as the tiny buds on the African violet on my writing table swell, then open, then shout “I’m here,” to the morning sun.

Day-by-day, at my kitchen table in the square between two windows, I open my notebook and write. I’m halfway through notebook #8 now in the notebook draft of my memoir, which I started on June 16, 2016. I have the ending, but I don’t have the beginning yet. I have over 125,000 words, far too many for any kind of finished manuscript.

But I’m only on the notebook draft. After this, I’ll do my first edit as I work from the handwritten notebooks, transferring some, but not all, of the scribbled pages into Scrivener and I’ll write new ones, too. This will become my first manuscript draft and then, day-by-day, draft #1, #2, #7, ad infinitum. Who knows how long until I can say “The End.”

All I know if this: the pumpkin will fatten and fatten until it is ready to be someone’s jack-o-lantern, the spider web may trap a creature or two before Carolina uses her cleaning brush to knock it off the screen, the African violet on my writing table will lose its blooms, and pause and wait, and then create new ones.

Day-by-day, the pumpkin, the spider, the violet, and I will do what we do every morning. Day-by-day is what matters.

The Dog Days of Summer Writing

We are in the Dog Days of Summer, which began July 3 and end August 11. Many believe these summer days were given that name in reference to the heat, and that even dogs are stricken lazy by it. During these Dog Days, we may find our writing lagging, too.

But the term Dog Days of Summer isn’t about the heat or lazy dogs. Actually, it refers to a different kind of dog: Sirius—Orion’s most loyal hunting dog. The Dog Days of Summer actually refers to the heliacal rising of the Sirius (heliacal, meaning rising with the sun), which for the six weeks we’re in the midst of now, is the brightest star on the morning horizon.

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