On community, urban sprawl, infant mortality, and the Albany food co-op.
1. Office at home
Set up your office and get to work, a friend instructed a few years back, when I complained about the novel, which had plateaued at halfway done and was now just sitting there. I half-heartedly poked at it a few times a week, but the momentum was gone. So I put down an old Ikea kilim, cleared out clutter per the Feng Shui guru, hung pink string lights and cute scrap flags someone sewed me as a gift and a photograph of a feral house in Detroit (which has a thing or two in common with downtown Albany). Suspended some tillasandia with twine. Now I had a nice quiet little room to sit in and contemplate the stalled novel.
Just doing the work is the whole battle, we always say: making contact. Sit with the novel, be in it. Turn off the internet so you have nowhere else to go. Only rarely is it satisfying. Rarely is there a great chunk you can point to at the end of a day and say, here is what I did today! More often there’s the vague fear you’ve made no progress at all. Where did those hours go? Where is your work? What is this adding up to? You have paid someone else to be with your child while you did this bullshit? The thing continues and continues to feel like a wreck. But it’s your wreck. And you are working on it, even when it seems like bullshit, eating your time and appearing none the better. No effort is wasted, says the Bhagavad Gita on a post-it I stuck to the bottom of the giant computer monitor. But God, some days are a slog.
2. Leaning against doorjamb while boy plays in the bath