January 9, 2010
So began Amy Bloom’s reading of her story “By and By” from her new book (out this month) of stories: Where the God of Love Hangs Out.
The story was dark, haunting. About a missing/murdered girl–and those she left behind. About the body and what happens to it in death, after death, because of death. Very graphic, disturbing, somber, but beautiful. We were all pretty speechless after. When she asked if there were any questions the room was pretty much silent (rare for an audience of writers and artists of all types); our mouths slightly open. The story still resonating (and still resonating longer… after I went back to my room and sat in bed; whereupon I read another story of Amy’s “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You” from the collection of the same name).
We (the writers here at VSC) had a round-table discussion with Amy where we asked her questions about writing– struggles, frustrations, ideas. She was direct, to the point, tough, funny, no bullshit.
I didn’t meet with Amy individually as some of the other writers did. I’m here for 3 more weeks and so I’ll be meeting with the next one in a couple of weeks. I’d like to give her, Leni Zumas, something new from my book that I’m working on now. We’ll see. I don’t know Leni, but from her website (and the praise from the Writing Director here) she sounds pretty cool; she’s working on a memoir incorporating experimental fiction… sort of what I’m doing with my book.
Well, about my writing here: it was slow going, I have to admit, the first couple of days. It still is, at times. I spent a lot of time the first day arranging my office, going through my books and research documents, going to the window in my writing studio, looking out at the snow, feeling a little strange, lost. Overwhelmed. Unsure. But I’ve seemed to settle in. And everyone here is so nice, smart, approachable. So interested and interesting. Thursday had a good long day of writing. Friday notsomuch. But today has been good, too. Even though the sun has finally come out and the sky is soft creamy blue like a 1950s cardigan.
Voice. It’s all about voice this week–specifically the voice of one of my main characters/narrators. I am moving closer to getting his voice down and getting inside his head and for that i’m really happy. It’s been a long time coming but I think spending time thinking about this character without any interruptions and trying out different words and phrasings on the page and in my mind and verbally has helped. I think about him–this character– all the time these days. Ideas come to me when I’m walking through the snow, across the bridge where the little river is slowly slowly closing up from the ice so that it looks kind of like a zipper–it’s teeth meshing, coming together, ideas come to me at night in my room, so much so that I jump out of bed to jot down notes on a little skinny pad, when i’m brushing my teeth in our cold bathroom. I want to be totally consumed with this character. I want to see everything through his eyes (as Amy told us)–so that every move, every gesture, every word of dialogue, every thought in his head is a true one.
Some photos of my writing studio.
And some new photos of VSC and Johnson VT– more are on my flickr page (the cemetary above is in Johnson VT too).