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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where Do My Stories Come From? Where Do They Go?

(Today's pictures are all from home rather than bookstore. Yes, my personal trainer and I actually got out in the woods yesterday! The beautiful peonies, Festiva Maxima, are from a friend's garden.)

When I reveal to friends that I wrote ten short stories over the winter, the questions that immediately follow are, “What are you doing with them?” and “Are you still writing?” The answers, respectively, are “Nothing” (or “Not much”) and “Not right now.” Here’s why.

In January I woke up on our first morning in Aripeka with a character taking shape in my head and bits of sentences pulling me out of sleep. Many mornings were like that. There was nowhere I had to be, nothing much I had to do other than explore my own emerging fictional world. Oh, I had to cook and clean a little and get Sarah outdoors, but those activities were pleasant breaks from the writing. The fallow ground of that miraculously unencumbered time was almost instantly fertile.

My “real” life is very different. I love my home and love my bookstore, but my mind here, at home and at Dog Ears Books, is much more occupied and preoccupied. Its contents are not fictional; they are much more mundane. I wake to thoughts like this:

The garden needs watering before I go to work. Are the beans up yet?* What date is graduation? Elizabeth Buzzelli’s appearance at the bookstore is set (June 11), but I still need to schedule Don Lystra and Stephanie Mills, coordinate a double-header with Anne-Marie Oomen and Benjamin Busch, and figure out when Al Bona’s book of poetry will finally come back from the printer so we can plan his book party. My back order of Brad Hirschfield’s book arrived—what a relief! The Belko Peace Lecture is much earlier this year, though, so how will the turnout be?

That’s not all.

Woody and I urgently need to get a Packing and Shipping Department set up and organized for the Painted Horse Gallery! Supplies! Organization! Did I answer the last set of e-mailed questions from my mentee in Missouri? What is eating my strawberries in the garden, just as they ripen?** Can I afford to buy a few more peonies this year? Should I worry about ticks? If I even think about ticks, I become paranoid! When will our first summer visitors arrive? Should David and I mow again now or wait, and who can we get to mow the big meadow, and what will the weather be for St. John’s Eve this year, and will we find time before snow flies again to get our canoe in the water at least once?

It goes on--.

I need to update my Dog Ears Books site, with summer event dates and the theme of this year’s dog parade! The old tribute to Nikki has been good on the site, but Sarah is 2-1/2 years old now and really deserves a feature page of her own. We really, really need a painted sign on the south side of the building, saying ART AND BOOKS with a big arrow circling around to the front door. It would be so cool! And people would see it when they drive into town! And do people even know that I have tickets at the bookstore for the Leelanau Children’s Choir spring concert?

There are more new books to order, status of back orders to check, displays to change often enough so that everything doesn't look "the same" when people come into the shop. No, summer is not my season for writing fiction or trying to write fiction or worrying about not writing fiction. I’m doing well to keep up with bookstore, garden and blogs, family and friends and local events, and still find time to read a few books.

Here are some dates coming up soon:

Saturday, June 4, 7 p.m. Northport graduation in the small gym. Only 10 graduates this year, but they deserve a big send-off!

Sunday, June 6, 7 p.m. Brad Hirschfield will give this year’s Belko Peace Lecture at Trinity Congregational Church. His title is “Faith Without Fanaticism.” At the reception following his talk, I will have copies of his book available for purchase. They are in the store already for those who want to read him before hearing him.

Friday, June 11, 5-7 p.m. Elizabeth Buzzelli will be at Dog Ears Books to meet her fans and sign copies of her latest Emily Kincaid mystery novel, Dead Sleeping Shaman. She is so much fun! Don’t miss her!

Saturday, June 19 – Northport Lighthouse and Marina Festival, including famous Northport Fish Boil, at Haserot and Marina Parks, down by the water.

Also Saturday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m. Leelanau Children’s Choir and Youth Ensemble spring concert, “Simply Sondheim,” at the NCAC. Tickets available at Dog Ears Books and at the NCAC. $15 adult/$5 under 18 years of age

More announcements will come in the near future, but here’s a tip in advance for the August dog parade: the theme this year (think New Orleans) is “I Want To Be in That Number When the Dogs Come Barking In.” Feeling inspired? Angels? Saints? Musicians? Let your imagination soar!

*Beans are up. Everything is up.
**Birds are eating strawberries.


Anonymous said...

1. Good morning PJ--your house is serene. I'm sure it doesn't feel that way during the summer, but it looks that way.

2. Hello Sarah you pretty girl!

3. That sunset is gorgeous.

4. I fully expect to be over there on the 11th. Shall I bring you pie?

P. J. Grath said...

The porch can be serene morning and evening when we have time to relax there. You'd let me order a pie? Let's see, it's too early for that peach with the crumbly top, so bring me whatever looks best, and I'll reimburse you. Elizabeth Buzzelli writes, looking forward to June 11, "Can't wait to get out there to beautiful Northport!!!!" She knows the right things to say, too, doesn't she?

Dawn said...

Well...Northport IS beautiful, so she's right!

Enjoyed your thoughts, all tumbled together. Isn't that the way it is? My husband, when I speak thoughts like these aloud, just gazes at me with one eyebrow crooked. He can't follow the thread, doesn't see the connection, which is understandable. But it all makes sense to us!

P. J. Grath said...

Glad you could see the sense in it, Dawn. Glad I'm not the only one with Monkey Mind!