on looking past the work we've made and, also, the opposite (in Decatur)

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Devon Horse Show grounds are empty, but the gates are open. No, not empty, we discover; there is a single contractor working within. With his permission we walk, in and out of the stables, the new buildings, the old ones. I find a ladder and Bill climbs it into a secret place. I think an abandoned sink is lovely. Also a discarded, woven hat. Also emptiness as countered by the milk of contained light.

In the sun it is hot. In the shade it is perfect.

What are we searching for on this Labor Day?

I have been reading Olivia Laing. I have been reading (I seem to endlessly circle her) about Virginia Woolf. Her ecstasy. Her mourning. Her river and her pocketful of stones. I have been reading, too, about artists, jealousies, rivalries. Bacon and Freud. Manet and Degas. I have been thinking of the panel I was on, just yesterday afternoon, at the exquisite AJC Decatur Book Festival, and all the things I didn't say, and the friends who came to see me, and the ease of our stupendously fine moderator, Terra Elan McVoy, who brilliantly coined perfumes for us and wove a silk thread between stories for us and wondered about our books as films and decided This Is the Story of You isn't really a film, not yet a film, though perhaps it is an Indie. Yes. Always. I am, will be, the Indie. Slightly out of step and over to the side and stewing inside the next act of making something, my preference, always, for the thing that is not yet made, as opposed to the thing that is.

Do we read our books after they are published (beyond when authorial responsibility calls us to), we were asked. No, I said. No, emphatic. For there is no fixing the book then, no new chance, and I always wish that my books were better than they were, and I am always trying, until they are printed (ask any editor of mine) to make them better than they are, than they will be, but yesterday, when I was feeling, I'm not entirely sure why, sad, there was a girl in the line after the panel who asked me to sign her books. "You are my favorite author," she said, and I was stunned by it, set back, this gesture of hers, this kindness extended. Words that pinned me to the present time, for that present time, in that moment. With me on one side of the table and this beautiful girl on the other, for just that moment or two, I was me, with the books I have made, in the present, in the moment. I was not looking past them.

Not in that split of time, anyway.


Debbie Levy said...

What perfect moments you describe here--perfectly--Beth!

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