I find myself taking an unintended sabbatical. May is nearly gone and the only writing I’ve accomplished is writing haiku and journaling. Two books — a memoir and a novel — are calling me, but to move forward on either, I will have to quit chasing two rabbits.
Project #1 is titled All the Right Places. Project #2 is a novel that will tell what happens with Clara and Dottie, characters in The Hand of Ganesh, after their return from India. Because I am trying to focus on two goals at once, I’m progressing on neither. A bit like my friend Jennie Cooley’s painting, “Chasing Two Rabbits.”
In early May, I spent a week in California. The meandering mode began in San Diego. With my son, I climbed a peak called Black Mountain. I walked around lakes in the neighborhood, reconnected with teenage grandchildren, read Jennet Content’s fascinating book 109 East Palace and listened to Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry. I highly recommend both books.
Ducks, coots, and croaking frogs made my daily lake walks a delight. I’d visited the lake on previous visits but never encountered any birds with blue bills. Ducklings wandered up to me, followed by Mom and Dad and looking for a handout. I could hear but not see the frogs. One bellowed loudest. My 12-year-old grandson told me that one was “Jeffrey.”
Conant’s documentary work was especially rewarding. I worked in the 1990s as a technical writer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was rewarding to read Conant’s version of “the city that never was,” the human interest inside story of the Manhattan Project. She unveils the bigger than life story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and write about the scientists that created the atomic bomb, the so-called “gadget.” In producing a radio program titled “Los Alamos Then and Now” I’d learned a lot. Conant’s book opened my eyes to much more.
The week of vacation should have been a perfect time to work on the memoir, to start that novel. Right? Wrong! I had not brought my writing materials or my spiral notebook of ideas. Instead of applying myself to All the Right Places or (working title) The Ganesh Girls I played online bridge. Instead of writing fictional scenes, I watched “Queen Charlotte” on Netflix and “Great Expectations” on Hulu.
When I returned to Santa Fe, the month was only half over. I could have plunged into writing projects. However, there was the lure of Farmers Market, where I sell my books every Tuesday morning. And then, there was the Santa Fe International Literary Festival, with fascinating speakers, literary luminaries. I’d bought tickets to hear John Irving and Gillian Flynn, both of whom turned out to be fascinating presenters, talking about their latest novels and their respective writing processes.
The Tuesday morning Farmers Market in Santa Fe’s Railyard District offers crafts, jewelry, woodwork, leather creations in its indoor artisans pavilion. Outdoors, you’ll find produce, plants, vegetables, baked goods, fresh eggs and much more. My book table is located inside the pavilion.
Then, there was the vegetable garden to plant, the wardrobe changeover, the garage organizing. The copier broke and I’d have to buy a new one or learn to use the scanner that came with the printer. A memorial service for a friend who’d died, an anniversary party, a dinner invitation. Finally, I gave up on May.
June first, however, will begin a new writing regimen. The secret will be to chase one rabbit, not two. Right now, I believe that will be the memoir. No more MAYandering!
Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on the writing, hiking and the outdoors, Santa Fe life, and the world as seen through adoption-colored glasses. Check out her newest novel The Hand of Ganesh. Follow adoptees Clara Jordan and Dottie Benet in their quest to find Dottie’s birthparents. Order today from Amazon or http://www.pocolpress.com. And thanks for reading!