My standard line of the week has been: I got more writing done in the past five days than I did during my first Fine Arts Work Center fellowship. Which is not exactly true, but almost. Back when I was a Fellow I could barely sit still. A book, a boyfriend, a life--I wanted so much I spent half my first seven months walking up and down the street, looking for and not getting much of anything. That might have something to do with the fact that Evan does so much walking in Lawnboy, which had its origins back then, in the second floor of the steel-blue cape on Fishburn Court.
It's a cliche to say it, but time is cherished when you've been around for a while, and that might have something to do with the fact that I'm better at balancing my desk time and taking-a-break time. I have gotten to be out-and-about, and on one of those out-and-abouts, I went to the Beech Forest for a walk. I hadn't been to the Beech Forest in nine years, not since our late dog, Arden, went on one of his last walks there. I walked up the bike path, turned off, trudged up the hill through the tunnel of pines. It got it in me to do the "book trailer" I've talked about making for weeks, something home-made and spontaneous: the opening sentences of The Burning House. I did one version and then another. In one the wind blasted away my words. In another my voice went shaky as I tried not to slip on the ice. One version took me out onto the pond, and who knew whether the surface would give way beneath me? By the time I was on version six, I was high up on a dune within sight of the National Seashore Visitor Center, Race Point Light, and the wild, wide sea. The trees were twisted. My hands were frozen, and there were no fresh shoe marks on the sand beneath my boots. It was getting dark. I thought of whales out there, though I couldn't possibly see them.
After a half hour I did make it back to the parking lot, just as the streetlight went on, and wouldn't you know I didn't use any of those videos, but a video I made the next day, on the Hatches Harbor fire road. A friendlier, flat road, also bordered by pines, but closer to the landscape of the book, even though there's still some crusts of snow on the ground. (The book, I should say, is a spring and summer book, but we can be figurative about all that.) Just one take, and that's what you'll see if you care to look at the video posted in the column to your right.