Sunday, September 15, 2013

1/2 way mark

Today is September 15th and I'm halfway through my residency. I guess it's a good time to check in.
I'm happy to report my fears about productivity were unfounded. It gets easier to write every day, and so far I have four essays written--three are (very) rough drafts and one is almost (I hope) ready to send out. I've written roughly 11,000 (edit: Haha, I wrote 1,100 at first. Whoops!) words, not counting the other bits of writing I began that went nowhere and the 1.5 notebooks I've filled up with handwritten stuff. 

Maybe that's not a lot for some people, I don't know. But it's a lot for me. As a contrast, let me give you some other stats. Before I came here, I'd written two essays over the course of two years. Again, that's not including a lot of things I stopped and started, or blog posts, or the little odds and ends that are spread around. But in terms of a complete piece with a beginning, middle, and end, I wrote two. TWO! And I really love them and hope they get published, but geez. That's pretty sad. 

So yeah, this has been really incredible for me. I am glad to know I am still capable of writing and that I can do it day after day. Sometimes it's a real struggle to get the words out, and sometimes my fingers can barely keep up with my brain. It's been fun and rewarding and a lot of hard work. 

There are a few day-trips I'm planning to take in the latter half of this residency, so I'm trying to plan for that. We had a difficult couple days when the town was flooding and people were being evacuated from their homes and the Rio Grande was splashing over the riverbanks, but everything turned out just fine. We spent the night at a hotel up on high ground, just in case. We ate pizza and swam in the pool and sat in the hot tub and I went for a run in the gym (I'm not even going to talk about the state of my poor body out here. I'm trying to eat well but it's hard. And it's too hot to run, so... Yikes.)

I wrote an essay yesterday so today I gave my brain a little break and went for a drive. I ended up in Hatch, New Mexico, which is famous for its chiles. I unfortunately missed the Chile Festival this year (I found out about it the day after it was over. Rats!), so there wasn't as much activity down there, especially on a Sunday. There were a few shops on the side of the road with long bushels of chiles hanging from their roofs like red bananas. I pulled over to check one out and as soon as I stepped out of the car I could smell chiles roasting. They let you pick out which ones you want (mild, hot, green, red, etc.) and then they'll put them in a wire cylinder that rotates like a bingo cage over the fire. And when they're good and roasted they release them into a big bag for you to take home. I was a little overwhelmed because I don't know if I could use that many chiles, and I can't really take them back to California with me, so this time I just bought some chile powder. I'll probably come back and get some dried ones, though. 

Then for the rest of the day I messed around in the studio, cutting and grinding glass to make some ART. 

Other important information: Soundtrack of this trip seems to be Townes Van Zandt, particularly Pancho & Lefty
The Exotic Cactus Farm is ONLY open on weekends and closes at 3pm. 
I miss my dog horribly. Sometimes I wake up and reach out to squeeze her little paws until I remember she's not here. Then I cry myself to sleep. (I don't really.)

Thanks to everyone who is reading, and for the encouraging emails and texts and thoughts. It means so much to me, you have no idea. There is nothing more thrilling than to know someone is reading something I wrote.

(Edited to Add: I just looked back and saw I wrote an update 5 days ago. That seems like it was forever ago! Also, I feel I need to explain why I only wrote 1 essay in those 5 days. I've been editing the heck out of one and then we had the flood so I didn't get to do as much writing okay?! I know no one cares but because I'm a crazy person I need to justify that to myself.)


  1. Doesn't your hand hurt after 1 or 2 pages of writing by hand? How do you do 1.5 notebooks?

    Glad to hear that your writing is coming along. We miss you and the Peanuts!

  2. 'the more you shall honor Me,
    the more I shall bless you'
    -the Infant Jesus of Prague