Tuesday, June 11, 2013

scorpion days, rotten log nights: letter from san francisco


If you asked me where I've been over the past three weeks, my face would take on the apologetic puzzlement of a person attempting to recall a series of numbers heard in a dream. I know I slept one night in leaf litter at the side of a forest road, and several in the house of a kindly witch who kept candles burning at all hours, and Portland was in there somewhere, and our old neighbors' house in Mendocino County, with a scorpion in a jar, and a bowl of feverish strawberries sweating under a purple towel. Now, I am in San Francisco for a week—at least, I think I am—staying in a friend's room while he is away. I've lost track of where my belongings are, and feel almost as scattered myself—like I've been shuttling around so much there's no hope of ever getting all the pieces of myself back in one place again.

Bookwise, I feel oddly serene. I didn't realize how much I'd been holding in, and what a relief it would be to have WILD AWAKE become an artifact, something not-me, an object I could sign a stack of in a store and then walk away from. The truth is, the book has all but disappeared from my mind, and for the first time in two years I feel free. There's a great sweeping space, deliciously empty, where the book used to live in my head, and new things are bubbling up there, like the first ferns curling out of the earth after a forest fire. I'm happy—of course I'm happy—about everything that's happening, the Australian edition cover I am so in love with, and the first reader e-mails sprouting in my inbox. But mostly I feel a readiness inside myself, deep and certain, like something waiting to be harvested. I'm ready to get moving again. I'm ready to plunge into something completely mysterious and new. For readers, a book's pub date is a hello; for writers, it's a goodbye—a curiously delay in the transmission, like a star whose light isn't visible from the earth until the star itself has long ago burned out.

I don't know where I'll be over the next few weeks and months—asleep under the roadside maples, or curled up in the scorpion jar. But wherever it is, I feel certain it will matter later, will be something I sift through again and again, as if searching for those lost pieces I'm so sure I saw.

If you see me, say hello. Or just look between the pages, the one place I can promise I will always be.
Australia-New Zealand cover



13 comments:

  1. You lead such an interesting life. You should write a memoir about what it's like to live in all these places and to travel. I haven't really traveled anywhere I wanted to go in more than ten years, so by reading your book I could live vicariously through your experiences. :)

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    1. some day! I feel like I am making the rounds of genres...poetry, non-fiction, YA...memoir has got to be in there somewhere!

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  2. Nice post with beautiful imagery. I hope you get stability soon. It's easier to write when you don't have to sleep with a scorpion. Of course, I wouldn't actually know this but it sounds like decent advice. :)

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    1. thank you! Techie Boyfriend and I are working on finding a more stable situation. it does stress me out sometimes, and there are projects I'd like to do that require a decent table. but I know someday I'll look back on this alternatingly exhausting and beautiful time with fondness...

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  3. I'm half inspired to learn needlepoint so that the first paragraph of this post can be immortalized in thread.

    That bit of luscious poetry could easily be the beginning of your next hit novel.

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    1. thank you, Douglas! I've actually done needlepoint...when I was maybe 12 and at my grandma's house...it's kind of boring, in a good way. something to return to when one is 80-something :)

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  4. Replies
    1. *sigh* yes. boomeranging between short-term stints here and there. I think I just need to ask a psychic where to live and get it over with!

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  5. Your words are always so beautiful :)
    Seriously, you have a way with words - obviously!

    And... about your interesting life. I'm sure everybody is telling you to create your 'brand' by underlining your being a true hippie (as someone from Harper Collins called you) and by only telling stories that confirm that idea you (and your publishers) want to give about yourself.
    Don't do that.
    Don't change. Don't feel forced to impress --- people will be impressed anyway.

    Best of wishes,

    Camilla

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    1. haha, I saw that "true hippie" line on the Epic Reads post (or somewhere) too. I think I'm too high strung and anxious to be a good hippie...always worrying about something. if my posts seem more "interesting life-y" than usual lately, it's because I'm taking a step back from the writing-and-publishing advice line...lots to re-think. thanks for hanging in there!

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    2. Great, then!

      I was starting to fear the marketing people were trying to interfere, but now that you mention it... I realise I'm starting to miss your wri-pub advice :)

      Keep up with the good things,

      Camilla

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  6. One more vote for the Australian cover.

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    1. indeed! and the photograph was taken in Vancouver, appropriately enough!

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