Day 40: Almost There?

posted July 1, 2018
Kitchen all hooked in! Zoom to see tile

It’s been weeks since I posted. It’s been weeks since I have done much, other that write new scenes for The Big Idea. I am on a self-imposed deadline of Sept. 4 to get a new draft done to send off to my agent and others, but I have that Hamilton feeling of “writing like I’m running out of time.” In 2015, Tom and I took the 36 Questions test, and at the time, I really felt that if I only had a year to live, I would certainly cease working on my book and instead write songs, see my friends, live my gorgeous, fulfilling life. But today, I don’t feel that way. I need to make this book the book I want it to be. I finally see what that is–after 18 years of thinking about it and ten years of writing it. And, given the nature of our state and the state of our nation, after the horrific beating democracy and the national dialogue (not to mention the Supreme Court) took this week, I don’t have faith that the world won’t erupt into the kind of violence we haven’t seen since the 1930s and 40s. I need to get this book done.

That might seem overly dramatic, but hey, it’s a motivation.

The news was so bad last week that I kept bursting into tears. Labor Unions being gutted, Anthony Kennedy unhelpful and now vacating his seat so PT can fill it with a forty-year-old, and then the shooting. And I haven’t even been reading the news–I know this just from leaving my house and seeing my friends at the grocery store. And I can’t escape the reality that as bad as everything is, I am part of the problem. I am a (mostly) willing participant in the capitalist system that demands growth to survive. The growth is what’s killing the planet, and yet here I am, living on the grid, building a house in my backyard, consuming fossil fuels and buying crap for my kids that will break or get lost within the year. Before you write and tell me all the creative ways I could change. I want to put up my hand. I do a lot of things right, too. We all have our lists of sins and sacrifices. But the point is I am part of the empire, even as I criticize it and lament its power and evil-doings. Reinhold Niebuhr said, “Groups can never overcome the self-interest that sustains their existence, no matter how many moral individuals they are comprised of.”

I was supposed to be writing to you, though, about Little Blue. Besides my novel and my family and my excitement about Jo Comerford running as a write-in candidate for State Senate, Little Blue has been the only thing that takes my attention these days. Little Blue is almost complete, and in one week, she’ll be open for the first writing retreat to be held inside her walls. The final touches will be on hold until July 16, and all will be finished by Aug. 1. But with one final push, we’ll be writing in the great room a week from tomorrow. The owl is here from England, sitting on my dining room table. The furniture will be moved from Big Yellow to give the writers a sense of continuity. I have a vision of the space that includes three 7 foot couches in a U-shape around a large coffee table in front of the fireplace. Above the mantle, there will be a projected image–poetry, prompt, work of visual art–to inspire the writers, and it will change every day. There will also be a narrow table and chairs for those who prefer to write at table rather than on their laps. But I was worried it wouldn’t all fit. Today, in the 98 degree humidity, I hired a couple of twenty year olds to carry the furniture into the space to see how it felt with everything inside, and it works! Then they carried it all back. We need to poly the wood floors this week, turn on the a/c, install all the fixtures, screen the porch. Here are some pictures.

After a weekend that included a family memorial service, a trip to the Burlington Mall where we were hoodwinked into buying our son this hat,

and finally a long evening at the beach, Tom and I went to church today to be with our people and be cracked open. I woke up this morning remembering it was almost Independence Day. It is hard to be an American today, and it’s hard to be a patriot. It’s even hard to have an uncomplicated love for the land. But I am all of that. This is the only country I have. I wrote another new verse to “America the Beautiful” and sang it at church.

O beautiful for spacious skies/For amber waves of grain
For purple mountains majesty/Above the fruited plains
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good in neighborhoods/From sea to shining sea.

O, Beautiful our open skies/How far our eyes do go
We crave a land unlimited/By anyone’s control
America, our liberty/Has blinded us with greed
Our bounty has deluded us/To take more than we need

How humbling, that grace bestowed/On our unworthy heads
When we the people turn our backs/On families that fled
America, our borders ache/O, let us find our soul
Unite the families torn apart/Each broken heart be whole.

New lyrics by Nerissa Nields ©2018

The Comments

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  1. Thank you, Nerissa. The new verses are very powerful (and the almost-completed getaway looks wonderful!) . . . Keep writing, my friend.

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