Prairie Center: The First-Draft-Dance
All week, I’ve been writing about home. Not North Carolina. But not not North Carolina, either. I’m working on the first piece in what I hope ten years from now (har) will be a collection of place-based essays touching on some experiences from this three-year tour. We’re not talking high drama here–no love story tell-alls or residency gossip or dramatic car problems (ahem). More like Wendell Berry meets Scott Russell Sanders. But that’s not quite it either…more like Joan Didion meets her edited version of Wendell Berry meets Naomi Shihab Nye and together they all go for a walk, whereupon they meet Michael Delp, who is simultaneously fishing and writing The Coast of Nowhere. Yeah. Those kinds of essays.
Which is to say I’ve startled myself completely with this first draft of a 12-page essay with the working title, “Of Place & Self.” It argues, by way of story and detail, that the merging of place and self is the truest sense of home. A greeting-card way of saying this has already been said: home is where you are. Well, duh. But how’d you get there? To that realization, that is? This is what I hope “Of Place & Self” elucidates, though I’m still in the post-first-draft haze (hence this wordy blog post) which, if you don’t know it, is akin to snorting cocaine then taking a bath in melatonin. In other words, the body and mind don’t quite know what to do but at least, so far, they do know when to stop tinkering and let the draft be, already!
So there you have it, ladies and gents. At exactly the halfway mark of my residency here in Peoria, and no less than three months after finishing the manuscript in Alaska (where I simultaneously lost my guts and my mind and my heart and a whole bunch of other apparently necessary things), I’m doing the first-draft-dance, sipping bourbon and yes, marveling a little at this spirited, ferocious life. What was it Dorothy Stafford said? “It’s really fun, if you can stand it.”