Monday, August 24, 2009

Absences--Teaching, Flowers, Books, Writing

1) School is starting, and for the first time in 9 years, I'm sitting it out. Woo hoo! I know that my semester off will be exciting and exhausting, but I also know I need to get down to business. I have a mental schedule in my head--can I stick to it? What will true freedom do to me: spurn me onward, or make me a couch potato?

2) The asters are missing. Well, 1/2 of them, thanks to the rabbit. We are now trying liquid fence spray here at TDM, after mixed results with pepper wax and plantskydd. Unfortunately, the 500 grassshoppers are still here.

3) I just discovered that black swallowtails--in late summer / fall--stay in their chrysalides for 8-9 months until spring. Since I don't want to try and overwinter any on the back porch or in the fridge, I put out the last two large cats on the green fennel and hope they can evade any wasps these last few days. I hope the two already inside will eclose soon. Must remember to be careful cleaning up the garden next March and not throw any swallowtails into the compost!

4) To make up for the lack of cats, I brought in three more monarchs. Also smashed up more aphids on the milkweeds. 3 tiems as many milkweed this year, but lots are limp and looked sucked dry.

5) I've had my hybrid garden memoir rejected for a third time this summer. Book manuscript letters tend to be very much like literary journal letters: it's us, not you--or, it's mostly us and other things, just a little you, because there's something sorta decent going on here, probably. I know I've just started this process and am still learning the ropes on manuscript submissions, but I'm quickly bummed to see the process is far too similar to getting an essay or poem rejected. Maybe I was delusional, thinking that a bigger chunk of words--a much, much larger effort--would return a different sort of response. I keep seeing people I know getting books accepted left and right, and I feel left in the dust's dust.

It's probably not a good time to try and get a book published (and please no one suggest self or digital publishing, or finding an agent so the process is twice as laborious and mysterious), but I figure if you got something unique and good it shouldn't matter. So what do I have? I really just sort of want to move on, and am finding it hard to do so when I still have to think about it--sending out the manuscript, sending out essays to journals (I really don't want to send out work to journals this year, but what choice do I really have?).... I'm already having a hard time concentrating on the next book project. Nothing is neat! Ok! Fine! I knew that! And if this book ever gets accepted it'll need editorial polishing. I know! Overlaps can be good, I suppose. I'm my most productive when 2 projects are going on simultaneously.

6) But you know what? I was just sitting here thinking about the times in my life when good things happened with my writing: they usually come in rushes and while I'm working my tail off. So, maybe the cosmos has seen my waffling in the garden too long and is waiting to see if I walk the walk 24/7. This is a test of the emergency writing system--get your butt back in the freaking chair and don't do anything else.

7) I really can't afford it, but I just ordered a heap of liatris for the monarchs. The garden should be nicely filled in next summer. If only a person's spirit and energy and faith were so easily appeased.

8) The day I'm not melancholic is the day I can't think straight or deeply feel the world--and the day I have no hope of experiencing true joy and peace.

"All I know is that here I am, and the valley is very quiet, the sun is going down, there is no human being around, and as darkness falls I could easily be a completely forgotten person, as if I did not exist for the world at all. The day could easily come when I would be just as invisible as if I never existed, and still be living up here on this hill. . . .And I know that I would be perfectly content to be so.

Who knows anything at all about solitude if he has not been in love, and in love in his solitude? Love and solitude must test each other in the man who means to live alone: they must become one and the same thing in him, or he will only be half a person. Unless I have you with me always, in some very quiet and perfect way, I will never be able to live fruitfully alone."


-- Thomas Merton

13 comments:

gardenbre said...

what about a title change ... Punk Rock Gardening ... then a haha ... hyjacked - you just bought a book on hybrid memoirs ... hook'em in then snare them with your good stuff (I don't know) ... I'd buy it!

lostlandscape (James) said...

The Merton is a beautiful passage. It seems like you've mastered solitude, yourself, which to the uninitiated can seem detached and unfocused, but in reality vibrates with making lists, planning for the next garden, reveling in swallowtails...

avagdro said...
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Benjamin Vogt said...

James--solitude is ery important to me, on a spiritual level. I can't feel happy or purposeful without it, tons of it, much to the consternation of those around me. I get weekly Merton quotes emailed to me, and so often they speak to me from a kindred soul.

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