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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Woolf’

I’ve been off the grid for a while, first because I was on retreat in the North Carolina mountains and then because I was trying to retreat from the virus the twins picked up while I was away.  But I’d rather think about the green spring mountains than green stuffed noses.

desk in the mountains

I set up a little table by my window so I could write while looking out.  I had planned (more…)

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About the only good thing that happened to me during the two weeks that I was sick was that I got my review copy of Stealing Time, a new literary magazine for parents.

The first issue of Stealing Time: Genesis.

I had thought – for the first half of the first sore-throat day – that being sick would turn out to be a good thing.  I could lie around and rest, lie around and drink tea, lie around and read … but the only thing I wound up doing was lie around feeling miserable.  And run around taking care of the twins while feeling miserable.  And sit up at night not sleeping because of my stuffy head and feeling miserable.  Until Stealing Time came.

I was just barely starting to feel better, just starting to need something else in my brain aside from cough medicine dosages and chicken soup recipes and the twins’ usual schedule of meal, nap, bath and bed times.  Stealing Time was perfect.  The essays, stories and poems were long enough to really get at something, but short enough to be ingested by a mother – sick or not – who is always trying to steal time to read or write.

Stealing time to read this magazine is well worth any consequence; most likely you will be inspired to steal more.

My favorite piece in this inaugural issue was (more…)

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Late this summer I wrote a post about autumn plans.  Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell made what they called “autumn plans” and I was smitten by the idea.  Woolf writes:

I always think of those curious long autumn walks with which we ended a summer holiday, talking of what we were going to do – ‘autumn plans’ we called them.  They always had reference to painting and writing and how to arrange social life and domestic life better … They were always connected with autumn, leaves falling, the country getting pale and wintry, our minds excited at the prospect of lights and streets and a new season of activity beginning – October the dawn of the year.

Virginia and Vanessa, when they were still the Stephen sisters.

I always felt like fall was the real start of the new year and for many years it was — the start of the school year — first as a student and then as a teacher.  But now I am neither (neither was Woolf) and autumn plans seem even more important.

I never made a formal list of my autumn plans, but I have done some things that fit the category — things that have been amazingly helpful.

The main thing was (more…)

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It still feels a bit funny not to be going back to school.  I was in grade school, high school, college, grad school and then back to college, this time as a teacher, for so many years that it seemed like I would always be going back to school.  But not for some years now.

I quit teaching to write full time, and then I had twins (who will not be in school, pre- or otherwise, for at least another year).

I miss shopping for back-to-school clothes and picking out notebooks and pens and folders and such.

I miss the fresh-start feeling of a new school year — all those clothes unworn, all those pages bare, all that potential hovering in the late summer air.  But (more…)

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A few days ago I read Mary Rechner’s essay “Why I Hate Food” and I’m still thinking about it.

It begins:

The aesthetics of today’s food culture (jam jars, wire egg baskets, communal wood tables) will soon appear as dated as macramé, but I fear the damage to a generation of women who are tending (and butchering) rabbits and chickens, and raising vegetable gardens (often along with children) has already been done. These activities are obviously more creative ways to spend time than watching soap operas, but urban homesteading and “the home arts” should not be confused with real art-making, which involves challenging the status quo, not feeding it.

The one sentence that really got me, though, was this:

The primary reason I refuse to place “eating correctly” at the center of my consciousness is because in doing so I would lose ground on my essential life project: living a dogma-free existence while maintaining psychic (and actual) time and space to write fiction.

And I thought, yes.

I like to cook.  I like to eat.  I like to cook and eat things that are made with recognizable ingredients (chicken, carrots, lentils, broth, milk, flour, butter, raspberries, etc.) (and no, those things do not add up to any particular/peculiar recipe!) and not things that come out of a package and are placed in a microwave.  But (more…)

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It’s a Saturday morning in late summer.  The air feels heavy, and not just with the weight of humidity and the drone of cicadas.  Summer’s tired.

Many of you are out and about this morning.  There are walks to take while the air is still cool, farmer’s markets to browse, pancakes to eat, games to play, errands to run, chores to do.  Many of you will not read this post until later — perhaps tonight, more likely tomorrow night, possibly not even until the first lull of your workday Monday morning.

But I’m at my desk while the twins nap in the next room, thinking about autumn, and starting to make plans.

Virginia and Vanessa.

Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell made what they called “autumn plans.”

Woolf recalled:

“I always think of those curious long autumn walks with which we ended a summer holiday, talking of what we were going to do – ‘autumn plans’ we called them.  They always had reference to painting and writing and how to arrange social life and domestic life better … They were always connected with autumn, leaves falling, the country getting pale and wintry, our minds excited at the prospect of lights and streets and a new season of activity beginning – October the dawn of the year.”

I don’t have a sister to walk with.  And walking while pushing a stroller isn’t really conducive to planning creative work.  But (more…)

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How quickly I’ve become accustomed to my new writing space!

We moved about a month ago (so perhaps it’s no longer “new”) and I set up my desk in our bedroom in a little alcove facing two windows and a big leafy tree.  It’s much lighter and loftier than the view from my old writing space (in which my desk faced a wall next to a window, but the window had bars on it and looked out at the grey trunk of a tree — not its green canopy).  (I used to call our old place “the asylum” — because of the bars on the windows, although the bars were, of course, meant to keep unwanted people out and not us — however crazy — in.)

I spend much more time here — at my desk, doodling around with various projects, watching the light change on the leaves outside — than I ever did there.  It’s become a hatchery again (and not an asylum!).

One of my doodling-arounds led me to this gorgeous spread in Apartment Therapy — “Literary Style: 15 Writers’ Bedrooms.”  It’s a slideshow of writers’ bedrooms and claims that

nowhere is the essence of the artist more present than in the bedroom. It’s here that one can intuit much about a writer’s process. Is it a hermit’s lair? A sanctuary? A work space? Is it the place where they do all of their best work, or the place that allows them to leave that work behind?

For this writer, the answer is all of the above!

Here are a few of my favorite writers’ bedrooms: (more…)

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