In Finders Keepers Cafe, my daily workstation, as I have been since 10:11 AM. Yesterday was a grandparenting day, another sublime experience that managed, nonetheless, to drain me of energy, and last night I hosted a book club (hosting is traumatic, I’d chosen Richard Powers’s sublime Bewilderment and every critical comment infuriated me), and this morning when I rose, stretched, read aloud on Zoom, walked to a fine gym session, then showered and breakfasted, somehow I knew: no work today, Andres, and that’s okay.
Let’s be clear. I am viciously selfish about securing blocks, as massive as possible, of writing time. Over the last four days, I’d “lost” two and a half to duties and chores, and I had grown tense inside. So I should have leapt into a fine day of writing work. But no. Today I’d dream and read like crazy and dream.
Why do I sabotage thus? Why dream of splendid words and vaulting stories but then skive off? Last year I read too much and my writing time was only a half of what it should have been, so this year is a “low reading” year, yet here I am, reading. Huh?
You can hear me roasting lazy Andres, can’t you? But at the same time as I judge myself mercilessly, I’m also celebrating. I am able, by dint of good fortune and selfishness, to carve out personal time. If on an occasional day I can stretch in my mind and inside my soul, and if I then leap into freedom, why shouldn’t I celebrate?
So today’s stab-at-this-and-that reading: John Colapinto’s fascinating The Voice, a look at humans vocalising (can I train myself to read aloud more compellingly?); Dervla McTiernan’s clever mystery The Murder Rule; Lavie Tidhar’s epic Maror, an Israeli retelling of Ellroy’s existential LA thrillers; Frank Bruni’s The Beauty of Dusk, a fifty-year-old suddenly unable to see properly (can this help a 66-year-old battling a grouchy foot and resurgent back pains?); Andrew Lowe’s Cruel Summer, the best indie crime writer I follow (why is his writing so compelling, in a way my writing isn’t?); Amy Bloom’s In Love about her hubby’s euthanasia (one of my obsessions: will I possess the courage needed?); Jami Attenberg’s memoir I Came All This Way to Meet You (how to stay on course with my dreams?); Hanya Yanigahara’s To Paradise, the huge follow-up (to the unforgettable A Little Life) that I keep baulking at; and this year’s Fat Book, Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob, even harder to commence.
Oh, and don’t forget the notebook. Thoughts fly, tears flow.