In the midst of the hubbub, I did some writing. I slipped away from the breakfast table every morning around seven and took barefoot walks in the sea foam, and along the way, two essays formed themselves.
Writing, after all, is why we are here in the Writers’ Colony, right? If not writing on a particular project, then doing other non-project writing that keeps us limber and juicy. Journaling, letters. Essays and poetry and little stories, all are encouraged.
And to feed our brains, we read good writing. I kept far from the laptop and television on vacation, and only used my phone as a camera. Books flew naturally into that vacuum. In eight or nine days I read:
- The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. A brilliant, beautifully written, sympathetic book.
- Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks. When in the Outer Banks, one reads Sparks.
- Daughter of Fortune, by Isabel Allende. Good fun romp and a California history lesson.
- Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. Food, musings — what’s not to like?
- The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. A slim, poetic, haunting slice of Japanese American life in the 1930s and 40s. This book won the PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction, and was a National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and a New York Times Notable Book.
- Scattered therein, two yoga magazines, skimmings from a pile of New Yorker mags, and everything I could find in the airplane pockets.
Reading de Botton and Otsuka stretch my book-structuring skills and make me want to choose finer words. Allende makes me think about writing scenes and time transitions. Sparks points out that what I saw in the Outer Bank waves were porpoises, not dolphins. And Colwin makes me want to bake gingerbread. What are you reading?
And how are you working on your own writing project? Have you set yourself milestones? Here’s a list of marching orders I’ve cooked up for my new book. If you see anything you like, take it and make it work for you.
Tasks for the book
- Apply family group notes and Mom’s notes
- Review the loose papers
- Review Aunt Carlotta’s book
- Read X’s 5 notebooks
- Interview cousins about the land/farming/the Delta
- Apply my notes from school, AWP
- Apply background books (add in notes/biblio)
- California books (about 30)
- Newspaper articles (about 50)
- Women’s household and feminism books (10)
- Mysticism and psychology (6)
- My old magazines, pamphlets, and old cookbooks (25+)