I’ve been putting all my energy into the book so haven’t had the bandwidth to check in here. But it occurs to me I’ve developed a nasty habit of only reporting the bad stuff, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Lately, despite all the mishegos in our country and in the world, I feel incredibly grateful.
As soon as the sun pours into my bedroom every morning, I spring out of bed, a free man in Paris. Better yet: A free lady in Brooklyn. Yes, I run through my financial anxieties, my hanging cliffs of what-ifs. But then I leap into my routine. It goes something like this.
Turn on coffeemaker while Miss Gracie meows angrily. Pee while Miss Gracie meows angrily. Feed Miss Gracie to end said angry meowing. Settle back into bed with mug and remind Miss Grace with Pavlovian scratches and kisses that cuteness levels raise exponentially when angry meowing ceases. Ogle the last bit of sunrise, as well as (confession) Foster Kittens. Then put on grown-up lady bra, fetch a scallion-cheddar scone from the Italians next door (Piccione! they cry. Ask Grace why), and sashay down the street to my new writers’ space.
That’s right. A really great writers’ space–high ceilings, soaring views, polished wooden floors–has opened three blocks away. It is game-changing to have a designated place to work outside my home.
My farmergirl hours secure the blue velvet writing couch–just typing that phrase makes my fingers dance–so I settle there with with ginger tea, era-appropriate music (the early-80s are on heavy rotation), and a timer for 30 minutes. Then I climb inside the book.
The timer keeps my eyes on the prize–whatever part of me that wants to wriggle, drink, pee can wait a damn half-hour–and when it goes off I’m surprised. And set it again. And again. And again.
Eventually the space fills up and other humans start doing their annoying human things– you know, typing, breathing, existing. My brain battery runs out around then anyway, so I send the day’s pages to B and stumble into the sun, blinking like a mole. A super-happy, unusually tall mole.
Really, I feel just as sprung as I do after a Ruby Intuition reading or an “only-connect!” conversation or an afternoon of transcendent fucking or September at the ocean or Sunday at Middle Church or a meal that seemingly came together from on high. It’s not exactly like taking dictation from the divine–claiming that would be lofty even for me–but it is like working in the flow of something more than just myself.
I’d experienced such writing flow when living in Truro last fall but this kind of creative trance–I call it the ecstasy of influence (sorry Harold Blume)–had until this month proved elusive in New York City. It’s why I became a critic in the first place. It was far easier to react than to create anything from scratch in a busy-bee kingdom like New York City, if you can call a fictive memoir “scratch.” I guess I do.
When I come up for air, I’m thirsty, hungry, totally untethered–useless, really, unless I take a catnap, so I sneak back home, eat something light, and curl up with my trusty companion.
When I wake, I’m still stupid unless I get my heart rate up, so I scoot down to the gym a half mile of my house, and pull the same timer trick on my subconscious until I’m bathed in sweat and smirks. (Working out around the assless chaps of Williamsburg is highlarious.) Then I forage for animal protein, and cook a dinner supplemented by greenmarket fare. I clean up, chattering with B, set up the coffeemaker for the next day, take an exceptionally long bath, remind Miss Grace she’s the cutest cat in the Western Hemisphere (you’ve got to leave room for improvement), and thank the spirits and ancestors a million times before falling asleep.
Oh, there are variables. Sometimes I duck out to see friends or shows. Sometimes I do readings, which are going super-well; I wasted 2018’s first quarter trying to fit myself into the square pegs of various media outlets before realizing only intuitive work was an authentic complement to book-writing.
Sometimes the quotidian details get the best of me. Today, for example, the moon is void of course; I had soul-blasting therapy; my kitchen is under construction; Mercury retrograde is acting up as it heads for the door; and I left my phone at Whole Foods and my wallet at the hardware store and and and and– well, I’m writing to you instead.
Because for the first time in my 25-year tenure in New York City, I’ve developed a creative routine that really feeds me. I don’t have to take the subway, which invariably drains me. I don’t have to interact with toxic humans or assignments, which means I’m clear enough to write what feels right. I don’t have to worry about apartment security since I’ve finally signed a rent-stabilized lease. I don’t have to tote the kitchen sink when I leave the house because I’m usually close to home. I’m not strung out over any beau, past or present. I’m doing the best readings of my life. And I can commune with the glorious energy of my finely feathered city whenever I need to reboot.
Honestly, I’m so happy.