the correspondence project

I've created and have begun tackling several projects in this almost-year home. One of them is correspondence. The picture below is the mail I received on Friday. I am behind in answering mail. So waaay behind -- I don't even wanna tell you.
But I will, because I want to document this project, the correspondence project. I have boxes of letters like this that have not been answered. I am going to try to answer them now. For years I was juggling so many balls simultaneously. Here's part of a synopsis of 2000 to 2004:

1. as my first books are making their way into the world, wade through becoming suddenly single and negotiate difficult and contentious divorce. This will take years.

2. take care of family home amid termite invasion, flood from cock-eyed window air conditioner, furnace break down (so no heat in winter), no working lawnmower (knee high grass in summer), and no trash service (couldn't afford it).

3. be there for my children, try to make it to their games and plays, try to be there for jobs, moves, relationship travails.

4. find rewarding work in schools, at conferences, and travel-travel-travel.

5. find rewarding work teaching teachers at Towson University and negotiate the world of 58 students and their papers and academia while also doing the travel-travel-travel two-step.

6. finish my MFA in writing from Vermont College, requiring two ten-day stays twice a year in Montpelier, Vt. on campus, while also doing the travel-travel-travel which includes many trips to Mississippi...

7. watch my mother die of cancer in Mississippi and my father go right behind her, three months later.

8. write Each Little Bird That Sings in airports, hotel rooms, at home in my bed, in my bedroom office, in waiting rooms, on soccer fields, and in early morning quietudes, and in the three months I took off the road to finish it. Pour my grief and loss into that book and package up the fan mail that arrives for Ruby and Freedom Summer, neglect the thank you notes and correspondence I need to attend to, but get the next book written.

9. burst with pride as my youngest graduates from high school and try to help her find her way through the college morass without killing her or her killing me.

10. begin a new relationship that turns out to be the blessing of my life.

11. sell the house I lived in for 25 years -- fully half my life -- and move to Georgia. Which is when the family dog died. She was 13. I think she had just had enough, sweet soul.

What a time.

I began a new life when I moved to Atlanta, but I didn't let go of the travel-travel-travel. I increased it. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to take care of myself financially -- how in the world would I do that? I was on the road more than I was home, the past five years. I didn't have time to put down roots in a new life, but I found that I could do this -- I could take care of me and mine, but I couldn't get much writing done. I couldn't answer mail. I couldn't even keep up with friends.

And now I want to remedy this. I am home. I have sold The Sixties Trilogy, which allows me to be home for a stretch, and I have finished book one. I am finally putting down roots in my new home town, and it feels so good, so right. I'm finally centered, grounded. I'm ready to tackle the projects on my list that have been asking for my attention for so long.

So. The Correspondence Project. If you are in that pile of mail at the top of the page -- you'll hear from me soon. I'm going to start with the most recent and work myself backwards. I'll be writing about how I do this and how it works, as I go.

I'm so grateful for readers, for an audience, and just as grateful for friends and family, so many of whom helped me through the past 9 years so I could come to this resting place intact. I want to be more present. Now I can be. Thanks for waiting on me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Howdy. Moderating comments to prevent spam. I'm sure you're not that. Thanks for your thoughts! Write on, warrior on. Make art.