From Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpoint

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They pushed and pulled at each other in the hammock that drew them both together, and the world turned blue around them. P 236

This week has been a gift, truly. I am sitting in a cottage in Maine with time languidly stretching out in front of me, surrounded by bookshelves filled with every book I have ever read or imagined. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not much.

I have been waiting for this week for months, silently using it as an incentive if my reality became too much to deal with. But then as it was about to happen I panicked as I always do, wanting nothing more than to hide away in my bed under the covers and stay at home for the following week. The packing, the driving, it all seemed like too much effort. If only I could have apparated like Harry.

But I made it, and true to M’s promise (he knows me oh so well) I have settled in nicely here, as if I have always vacationed in this spot. A has remarked that this may have been her house in a past life, and I am inclined to agree. We fit here. If I close my eyes I can almost see myself discovering most of this furniture at flea markets and estate sales. Everything here has come from somewhere else—it has a backstory and a history.

I am up to my eyeballs in backstory at the moment. All of my characters are pushing at each other, shoving almost, which is quite unkind of them. They are eager to spill it all, to tell me of their pasts and how they intersect, though I feel as if there are some other key pieces of information that is guarded, but I’m willing to wait. If they trust me, perhaps they will share.

Here I feel as if I am finally the novelist I have been wanting to be. My inner critic, who has a loud booming voice at home, has been taken down a notch. There is time to explore, time to make mistakes; plow forward or hit the backspace key as needed. I don’t feel that same tug as I do at home. Writing/Work. Mother/Wife.The tension between what I should do and what I want to do. At home the blank pages patiently wait for me to fill them while my characters are neglected but not forgotten.

Still my work here is not as focused as I might have imagined. There is high speed internet and the pull of the rest of the world is strong. In limited doses it has proven to be informational and inspiring. As luck would have it I came across a Murakami piece in my inbox today. He writes of that moment when he became a novelist. He was at a baseball game and the thought came fluttering out of the sky. It came at a time in his life when he and his wife were already working hard trying to make ends meet. One night they found some cash in the road, it was the same amount they needed to stay afloat. He saw it as a gift. To me this article, and the pages I read from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, have been the prodding force I’ve needed to keep going this week. Gilbert quotes Melville who says ‘I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances.’ She writes that he ‘longed for a big, wide open stretch of time in which to create…’ He wrote in his spare time as did Murakami and somehow they managed to produce many books that have been read by readers all over the world.

That is not my hope, (though Mary Oliver said to ‘leave room in your heart for the unimagined’…) I just want to get this story down on paper. To quiet those voices demanding attention, to shape it into something coherent. To actually see it through to the end. My simple desire would be to put words together that form these solid sentences, some of which sing when you read them and connect in a way to make your heart hum. I want to give someone else that moment of crystal waterglass clarity I feel when a sentence strikes home.

It feels good to devote myself to something after all these months of focusing on T and school and helping him plan a future. It’s good to put my own work front and center. To spend a week on something other than helping people find what they need to read at the Library or what to buy at the bookstore. Crafting and creating something of my own these past few days has been challenging, but I’ve got something to show for it. It is far from perfect. But if all first drafts are shitty, then I’ve earned my Bird by Bird badge.

There are moments when I fantasize about sitting in that hammock lazily reading. Or I wish I was home to help M walk the dogs or snuggle the cat or watch the bunny flop his long ears over and take a nap. But it will come, probably sooner than I would wish. I know when I do get home I will dream of my time here in Maine. This table. These windows. This view. And this glorious bathtub; extra long, old-fashioned and the perfect place to have a soak and ponder the next paragraph. I’m holding these sensations close so that they can get me through to the next time.

‘I always call up those sensations whenever I think about what it means to write a novel. Such tactile memories teach me to believe in that something I carry within me, and to dream of the possibilities it offers. How wonderful it is that those sensations still reside within me today.’ ~Murakami

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