Day Three: Foundations

posted November 19, 2017

I am writing this from Whole Foods in Hadley. I just came from the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, where I heard my friend and Big Yellow writer Ruth Lehrer read from her new novel Being Fishkill. This book started on my red couch, and it’s now a thing of beauty and in

spiration. I cannot wait to read it, and I plan to give it to several worthy folk for Christmas. Tom and I have a date night, and we are going to see Ladybird, which, according to its preview, shares some similar elements with Fishkill I can’t believe how lucky I am to get this afternoon/evening of culture. And speaking of which, I’ll make this a trifecta: last night I finished one of the best novels I’ve ever read: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (it won the National Book Award in 2011). I’ll write more on these tomorrow.

Now that the trees are down, the beautiful red maple feels like queen of the yard. Every time I look out my kitchen window, I see her giant Y, a big Yes.

Can you see the Y?

The ground is cold. There have been robberies in our neighborhood, so we are keeping all the doors locked. This is one of my favorite times of year, even with the light fading. I love to walk by the river with my dog, my kids and my friends and see the land so clearly, now that the leaves are down. Her contours. The river is still flowing. Everything is dying back, but it is still, essentially, alive.

I have three beta readers for The Big Idea. Two of them have given me extensive feedback, but I want to corner them and sit them down and interrogate them about every single sentence they highlit, or every chapter they suggest I cut. I want this process to be over, and I want it never to end. I want to keep working on this book for the rest of my life, and I want to move on and write something else. But I want most of all to get it right, and it is still not quite right.

Today, the backhoe is idle, with its long claw extended like a tired brontosaurus. Next week, they will dig the foundation, and, I am guessing, dig trenches in our yard to lay the pipes for the sewer and electrical systems. There is so much to do at the earliest stages of any project. When one is building a house, that lesson could not be more cogent. We are wrestling with the question of how much steel to put in the foundation. Our contractor says less. Our engineer says more. I will have more to say about this tomorrow, after I have seen Ladybird, I think.

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