I love the spartan summer house ways that make hot water, toast and even tea a bit of a luxury. It gives one a welcome break from constant consumption (the connotation seems apt here; consumed by consuming). The weekly market is opulence itself: piles of ripest fruit and vegetables, some glistening and some still matte with soil, white or brown eggs in pink cartons, baskets of spices, varieties of olives, sweetest mountain strawberries, paper-thin sheets of yufka, frosted angelica plums, bunches of purslane and fennel. The watermelons and honeydews are in an aisle of their own, with one or two hewn open at each stall – you may imagine the scent…
There is only one permanent resident: a weathered, well-travelled copy of The Odyssey, translated (into prose) by T.E. Lawrence. I coax the old stereo into playing a mix-cd of Edith Piaf and Cole Porter, put my hair up in a tülbent turban and mop the floor. My poor writer’s thighs sigh. I put the batteries back in the electric bell and all its ringing parts. The clocks can do without. In the morning, blinds are lifted with a flutter or opened with a creak and a slam. Garden hoses hiss and sputter into wakefulness. The pomegranates crowning the wrought-iron gate have a faint blush. The quinces are a lickable naples yellow, and their sun-warmed fuzz feels almost animal. Should I try making some jam (or is it more properly marmalade)? There are still a few unopened buds on the jasmine, but all the roses are over, sover. The house has lain dormant for more than a year, settling into a comfortable decay, the way that we settle into our foibles and feeblenesses as we grow older. Paint has curled up, as have last year’s magazines on the coffee table; the buoy in the cistern has broken; the old satellite dish is hanging by one filipendulous flap of rusty metal; dregs of shampoo ooze dull and viscous; weather-worn plastic crumbles in your hands, and the prints of Klimt’s and Dufy’s have paled like so many summers. Like the silhouettes of the Ida Mountains behind nearer hills. But ah, the smell of sun-dried linen and warm towels; the blazing orange behind your eyelids, the feel of a blessed breeze, the spondees of cicadas and my own spontaneous private orations.
I have fallen into a semi-serious work routine that depends entirely on which room is cooler at what time of the day. Long into the sultry nights, then often up at dawn because of a pious mosquito. Writing, recording, reading, studying, pacing, watching a pair of passing passer feast on some shield bugs, hanging the laundry, bringing in the laundry, painting, walking, writing, studying, etc. etc.
The taxi driver informed me that my next door neighbour had died. He (latterly the latter) was an irate, cantankerous old man, always feeling he had been shortchanged. Perhaps he had. I was often annoyed by his loud arguments with his wife, and her querulous calls for him. Their little dog yapped at every passer-by, and sometimes they snapped at it to be quiet, between the clatter of their backgammon dice. Then there was their water pump, which used to clamour into half-life every half hour. Now all is still, and I’m half-ashamed of my impatience at their noise. A silent censure.
I want to be one of a kind, the end of the line, a full stop in the fulsome species. I am growing old and maudlin and worry about the good I’m doing in the world. Often it seems that the best I can hope for is that someone, somewhere in some not-too-distant future, may look on my works with a kind of loving pity at how hard I tried.
Perhaps you’d like to know my plans?
I hope you will excuse my radio silence of late. I’ve been indulging in some seclusion, travelling, unplugging, “listening to my head” and recalling my calling. I still think in terms of the academic year, so September feels like a new phase and I’m excited! Here’s what you can expect from me in the coming months:
1. As I reach the end of A Year of Creative Writing Worksheets, I’m beginning a new series: A Year of Creative Writer Worksheets. These will focus on you, and how you feed your writing. This question of what it means to be a writer is one I will be exploring all year on this blog, in the Coterie, and as I continue work on How to be the Heroine of Your Own Story.
2. The One Page Novel is nearing its (second) completion. I know I said it was finished in July, but now it’s going to be even better!
3. The “busy writers” ebooks are coming soon, including: Military Strategy for Busy Writers, Constructed Languages for Busy Writers and Symbolism for Busy Writers. (I’m just a bit busy to finish editing them at the moment).
4. There are more stories are in the works! My next regency short story will be serialised exclusively on my regency mailing list, so join here if you’d like to receive it.
5. While I haven’t decided what exactly will replace the weekly write-alongs (which are always available, if you need a writing buddy), there will certainly be something for NaNoWriMo – probably a preparatory webinar and a slew of worksheets!
6. If you’re on any of my mailing lists, you can expect to hear more from me soon! :)
Wishing you all a splendid semester!