“You have your wonderful memories,” people said later, as if memories were solace. — Joan Didion, from Blue Nights.
Cold, gray Saturday, snow coming down in sloppy buckets. Rain and snow all mixed together. Wind too, and it’s still October. Found Doe’s winter coat in a basket of hats and gloves. She didn’t want to go out in it. Hates both the coat and the winter weather.
All forecasts predicted the same thing. Snow would accumulate on the still leafy branches of fall trees, and cause them to come down onto power lines. By Sunday, it had come true. My brother’s family escaped to my mother’s house to spend Halloween somewhere Chloe would be able to trick or treat. Their town was in the dark. Now, on Tuesday morning, it still is, along with a lot of other towns.
All weekend, I read and listened to music. Haven’t heard that Jayhawks record in a long time. Don’t look so sad Marina/Save it for a rainy day. Every song is a good one. How rare is that? And the production is of one piece with the songs. That’s something I’ve always struggled with.
Nice when the weather gives you permission to do what you want to do anyway. Got through the new Russell Banks, Lost Memory of Skin. I kept waiting for it to become something more, but it never did. Read the new Joan Didion too. Blue Nights. Beautiful and heartbreaking. I want to read it again. What does she mean exactly by the last line? “Yet there is no day in her life on which I do not see her.” Tricky thing to express grief. The way it takes over everything. How to represent it? When does it become only maudlin? Her book is everything I want my book to be. But I remind myself that, probably, it’s not realistic, not possible. Maybe when I’ve been writing books for twenty years.
I’ve finished the new draft, and will turn it in sometime this week. It’s nearly impossible to leave it alone — one more look through to change a small thing. Hard to resist cutting it, fixing it. But I think the new part three accomplishes what the book needed, though it is far from perfect. I do have the desire to make it perfect, to hone it the way a song is honed, until every syllable is resting comfortably, but when a rough edge is made smooth, something else is unintentionally changed. Better to walk away, leave it alone now. It is my first book, whatever happens next.
Now, there is the new record to launch, which means I’m not sure what. Just get it out there, I suppose, and try not to worry about its reception, or lack thereof. Is there a place for something so sad and gentle in the new world? Hard to know. Meeting with Jana at Steven’s office today to look at the layout. Have to get it to the manufacturer now in order for it to be released in January.