Thursday, November 6, 2008

letters from unregarded scraps of time

My latest enthusiasm is for letters. I am crazy for them, for the writing of them, for the folding into envelopes and marking of addresses and sticking on of stamps (not licking, not anymore... I remember when postage stamps tasted different; some like a bad imitation of sugar, some like a foul and bitter chemical). Receiving letters is fun too. You open them up and read the other half of a conversation that you had days or weeks or months ago. I like letters that wander about, the ones that put in the details to tell me what it was like to be the person sitting there and writing it. Letters are entirely different from emails. I only get to keep the part of the conversation that isn't mine. I send my thoughts and questions, all the little bits and pieces that happen to fall out of my head, off to someone else; and someday I can look through my box of papers and see what they had to say in return, but whatever I said is somewhere else entirely.

This is the long way of saying that I've been writing a great deal of letters.

I've been reading (Michael Chabon's Maps And Legends, a collection of essays about the wonders of genre fiction) and nervously writing. The story that I'm working on is an idea that is almost worn thin from long imagining. It takes up all the space in my head and leaves no room for anything else to grow there, so I am doing my best to pry it out with diligent effort (though I'm beginning to think that an ice pick might be a more effective tool). I've been dancing (do you know how delicious it is to do your first grand jete in an entire year?) and working (my favourite moment of the week: a woman asked me whether Macbeth was a book or a play. The only answer my amazed brain could come up with was, "do you mean the Shakespeare?" To which she said, "oh. I think so.") and discovering that time vanishes very quickly if you don't keep a close watch on it.

I've also been deciphering my notes from Clarion (mostly in search of a useful icepick) and one of the things I've been pondering is something that Geoff told us. He said something along the lines of, "What will telling a story in prose add that no other medium can give? Not film, not theater, not poetry. I suggest that it's interiority and how the characters think and feel. You can salt prose with their thoughts."

That's about it. I'm trying to figure out when I can go admire the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, when I can take my bike out for a spin, and when I can try that fascinating rowing machine at the gym, but I haven't quite figured out the time thing yet. Soon.

2 comments:

Kat said...

Speaking of, I just received your most recent letter. Hurrah!

Megan Kurashige said...

Hurrah! Mail triumphs once again!