When you're trying not to get too involved in something, a project- or someone, I suppose- because you'll have to travel the next day, and then helplessly becoming so anyway. There should be a word for that.
“For despite his confidence, and his apparent maturity, I suspected that there was in him a deep and childish need to elevate, and idealize, the love object. This is not uncommon in artists. The very nature of their work, the long periods of isolation followed by public self-display, and the associated risk of rejection all conspire to create unnaturally intense relationships with their sexual partners. Then, when disillusion occurs, as of course it must, the sense of betrayal is profound...”
-Patrick McGrath, Asylum
Haha, in my life, so guilty of this. Idealism is a painful thing. But an important North Star, too-
Wonder if it is possible to idealize people & things, moments- while also realizing that it all must fall away. Nothing can stay the same.
After all, everything in life is beautiful, meaningful, specifically for its transience.
And yet.... we can trap beauty for a little while, can we not... within pages?
"The light through the trees had an old, permanent beauty. The leaves were wet and bright near the river, and I moved through them almost happily, floating down towards the main road. I’d thumb a ride; I’d take a bus home. This spongy ground, this washed air. The trees lifting as they dried. I had a feeling of things about to happen, an arboreal taste in my mouth. Free. I was free.
There were lakes in my heart, ashy, dreamless; growing wider."
- Evening's Land
Reading from an old stack of Horizon magazines downstairs off the kitchen, came across a lovely question:
A man might ask a painter- “Why do you paint that tree, since it already exists?”
and the painter’s response is telling of an artist’s whole MO.
I paint because I must- I paint because I want to document- celebrate-I paint because I must- I paint to teach you goodness-
So I sat back on my heels and wondered- why do I ‘paint the tree’... ?
Because it moves me: because I want to incorporate it into the world in my mind; to alter and thereby possess it.
Interesting, then, that my whole novel is about worlds in the mind, what happens when they collide. How to incorporate those worlds into the larger thing we are all adrift within. (Clearly I’m trying to possess something, to stop it and study it, as much as I am re-interpreting it.)
But are we adrift….? Perhaps we are woven.
Sort of a wild start to the trip... The family next to me on the plane was very nice, trying to distract me while we waited to hear back confirmation that my love and my house hadn't burned to the ground. I probably looked like I was going to bug out of my skin.
After landing and finally getting the all's well from Andrew- who was amazing about the whole thing, even though he had to clean egg off the ceiling and front door-oh, I am lucky in love!!- I told my mom the story, and she said my great-grandmother had burned down her house that way. Boiling eggs.
Wild. I feel as if I've escaped some sort of family curse...
So far residency is otherworldly-amazing. Cannot recommend Noepe enough.
There is a deep peace here, a sense of spaciousness.
Lovely people, lovely place. A rich, dense quietude I hadn't known I would be able to expect.
Wonderful conversations to be had, everywhere in the house, when you want them. But we're also entirely free to be strange and reclusive, and everyone understands implicitly.
I've never been around other writers like this. It's just glorious.
I'd meant to work on Savages during my weeks here, as you know, but one of the fabulous agents who’s made me an offer suggested I further explore the friendship between the girls in Evening’s Land.
The backstory of that friendship- their childhood together. Coming into womanhood together. And then their fall.
I was delighted and terrified by her suggestions, because I’d finally had the sense of the ‘globe’ that is Evening’s Land closing shut in my mind. I worried it couldn't come open again.
But it unlatched yesterday morning, right as I woke up, and all sorts of gifts I do not deserve are spilling out.
So, yesterday I'd meant to walk to the grocery right off, so to work without disruption all day, but accidentally began working first thing. Only emerged when need for caffeine became insurmountable.
In dire need, visited Espresso Love, a sweet little cafe just a block away. Latte, latte, latte...
And then wandered down the quiet street (sleepy shops, chalkboards saying 'Happy New Year! See You This Summer'-) towards the water...
Looks like it's going to be a drizzly weekend, perfect for holing up to work.
Monday looks pretty, and there's been talk of an outing- maybe check out a bird sanctuary, some trails, a fabulous bookstore. (Tales of a 1st edition Hemingway for $150? my my.)
Meanwhile, waiting to hear back from a couple other agents who still have the manuscript.
After you receive your offer, it's common practice to ask for a little time ( 2 weeks or less) to consider the offer, and also to let other interested agents know that there has been offer made, so that they can put in theirs as well, if so inclined.
I'm terrifically excited about the offers I've received. Think am leaning in one direction rather heavily, but don't have to decide or think about it too much until Monday. Wednesday at the latest.
Man, I tell you- to have an utter stranger read your work, to have them just get it absolutely- for them to love it? Wow, what an experience. I told Andrew these days are the happiest I've ever been in my life, save the day we went on our first date and realized I believed in love again- and the day he and I moved in together (haha, that was our third date, no joke. When you know, you know, and that is that.)
Anyway, I'll leave you- for now- with that mushiness. XO.
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)