Revising the Novel: Writing Poems Instead

Oh, it’s so attractive…that grand idea of actually finishing something. I certainly vibed on that rush when writing Flashes of War, which included 26 short pieces and therefore 26 highs to keep me going through the “longer” haul of 6 full length stories. Out here in novel-land, with the winds howling over Racoon Ridge on one side of the Airstream and down the face of Gibbs Mountain on the other, February hanging on like a dark cloud on sedatives, it’s hard not to give in to temptation. Certainly, there is chocolate–the ever-present temptation. But on the page, what I’m hungry for is a sense of something tidy and tight, neatly tied up and comin’ ’round full circle in that oh-so-literary way. As the novel slips further and further into I’m-lost-in-a-story-of-my-own-making-land, what’s a little poet’s high here and there going to harm?

No harm at all, and even more delightful is the the strong company of women to share it with. I’ve been “home” from life on the road since August of 2012, technically a year and a
half (although the book tour and a fellowship at Randolph took chunks of that time away). Only now am I finally feeling as though I can consistently enjoy and bask in some of the things I love about living here. That includes a small group of women of the South Toe Valley who write, paint, garden, read, make, raise children, and generally rock their consciously-lived ever-lovin’ lives. It also includes the peace (piece? I never know…) of mind and time to delight in a monthly letter and poem swap with a poet-friend back in Michigan…and to tie it all up each month at Burnsville’s local, free, inspiring women’s open-mic night, Eve’s Night Out, hosted by Britt Kaufmann.

In other words, it feels good. And good is how a writer needs to feel when facing 11 events and 5 flights in 4 weeks (coming up!) on top of novel revisions that, however hard I’m working to frame them positively in my mind, seem to behave as tediously as a rebellious teen. This week, I’m housesitting for some dear friends and other than hanging out with their deliriously cool dog, it also means: hot baths every night, a house with central heat, and a fireplace that is controlled by a remote. Oh, did I mention that there are like…rooms…for different tasks and activities…like, you know, space? Yeah. I’m hoping this all adds up to nourishment and productivity, with a keen view of the Blacks to inspire me at the break of each day.

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