Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Light snow fell overnight, enough to send the town plow over our dead end road, so loud as it zoomed scraping past that I woke in a lurched panic that a jet was about to land on our house. A little later I looked out the kitchen window, and before even fixing myself breakfast (my current omelet, feta, spinach usual) I slipped a fleece over my nightwear (current favorite: ivory cashmere sweater set with tiny pearl buttons (!) and blue knit leggings - I could just about serve a queen tea in that getup) and trudged over the slippery crunchy driveway to the shed for birdseed, and then over to the back of the house to fill the near-empty feeders.

Night is falling fast and I've got a pot of chicken paprikash simmering on the stove, which we'll have spooned over wide egg noodles. That's a dish I grew up with. Spent a couple of hours today figuring out how to redline Word documents using a text markup function that automatically colors changes in red and shows strikethroughs on proposed deletions, and copy-edited a page of My Friend in Finland's fairy tale, which is absolutely wonderful and delightful in every way, but whose printed text was marred by a myriad of tiny spelling & grammatical errors, of the "its" versus "it's" variety for the most part. It's an interesting exercise, careful copy-editing, one doesn't wish to overdo it - render King Jamesian poetry to flatfooted vernacular - and yet - on certain suggested changes, where does one draw the line? So it was an intriguing mental puzzle, plus an exercise in grammatical diplomacy, to not overdo it, to try to draw the line between clarity and correct English, and to not trample on style, or voice (even if the voice is colored by excellent though not-quite-perfect English, but perhaps that imperfection is to be preserved, as on a clothes tag that says that the natural web and weave and odd thread is to be regarded as part of the inherent beauty of the garment... I have no formal editorial training, and would be very curious how a professional editor would approach the same text. But as I said, to reassure My Friend in Finland, his fairy tale is beautiful - a golden egg, truly - what I'm talking about is small, sideline technical considerations regarding another's text).

Finished reading my first Muriel Spark novel ever, with a sense of respect and admiration, if not quite love. I know that the word "mordant" is used to describe her tone. It's just not really where my head and heart and spirit are these days. Mine are closer to the tone, perhaps, of a heartbreakingly beautiful love poem and love letter that E.D. wrote to her brother Austin's wife, Susan Dickinson, with whom Emily had fallen deeply in love. Thank you, Lenore, for posting these exemplars on your beautiful Secret Life facebook page today - I hadn't read them before - or, if I had, hadn't focused on them quite so intently, since you offered them in beautiful isolation so that one might properly contemplate them (what I find so hard in confronting The Complete Poems or even The Selected Letters - no, truly, on a daily basis, simply one or two, judiciously offered, will do... But I've always been that way - I cannot stand to be made to choose one dress from a rack of a hundred - but show me three or four, and I'll happily light on one).

I really miss having someone, a preceptor, a particular object of my love, to whom to direct my writings, and to give them impetus, drive, passion - raison d'être - as one of Sparks' May of Teck Club "girls of slender means" (the one who does 'brain work' in publishing) says.

I heard from someone today, he responded to a message I'd sent inquiring after him (since, after an absence of several months, he has come back to looking in on my blog). I'm glad he responded but it's clear that his heart is not there for me, there is simply no point in my waxing or in any other way feeling or projecting effusiveness towards him anymore. There's nothing left, nothing but memories like fusty old pearl buttons on an ancient soft sweater. As I read Lenore's selection of a single E.D. poem and a love letter for Susan, I found myself envying E.D.'s ardor, how it does make for incredibly beautiful, rapturous writing - in the right hands - hers is no purple prose. E.D. is nothing if not heartfelt. That's what I'd like - I've been there - and I'm not dead -

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