It isn’t June anymore is it? I love the summer, but July always makes me a little nervous — you’re suddenly in the MIDDLE of summer, and you feel some urgency to get your summer things done, which is crazy because the whole point of summer is to not do much, and to enjoy the not-doing of much.
In contrast, June was a month when a lot happened. Because I am spending more and more time writing 140 character accounts of myself on twitter and facebook, I have fallen a little out of practice with the longer form that is a blog post. So I am going to make a list of what June looked like, thinking I might fool myself into thinking that a blog post is as simple as stringing together small accounts of yourself, which, in a way, it is:
1. I discovered this month that death and sickness, which are with us always, need not be disasters. My Uncle Martin died early in the month, and then two weeks later, another uncle, a lovely man we’d just seen on our way down from my Uncle Martin’s funeral, also died. Jim Berlin was his name — a man whose preferred form of communication was the three line joke, a guy who drove a truck for a living, fished and hunted and camped and swam and loved my aunt and my cousins, who were just toddlers when they married, and who are now grown men with trucks of their own. His funeral was a few days ago in Colusa — one of those places in California where it gets really hot in the summer and people grow things like rice and tomatoes, and the gathering after the funeral is in the park in the middle of town, under huge shade trees, right next to the municipal swimming pool. People bring macaroni salad and five hundred different versions of chocolate cake. And a lot of cold drinks.
What I learned in June is that small communities are rich places.
2. I spent a lot of time in June refreshing my e-mail inbox, waiting to get editing suggestions from my new agent, waiting to hear about a writing residency I applied for, waiting to hear about stories I have out. The results: new agent is a terrific editor so far and really busy, as all people who sell books for a living are; I will be doing this great writing residency with Antonya Nelson in the fall in Florida for three weeks; and no one at the remaining literary journals that have my stories is alive anymore. I can only hope that in small towns across America people are eating macaroni salad and chocolate velvet cake with cream cheese icing to celebrate the lives of those literary editors who are no longer with us.
What have I learned about waiting? That if you aren’t careful, and don’t guard against it, you can divert your attention from the stories you want to tell to the business of writing. I’ve spent far too much time in the last year doing that, and am slowly weaning myself off the e-mail inbox refresh button. Maybe I will write a blog post instead of opening my e-mail to see what’s in there besides offers to grow the penis I don’t have.
More things than that happened in June: my oldest sons are off to high school in the fall, and there is a lot of new teenage energy in our house, and then there is the next novel, which has to get in a higher, faster gear, now that I have come close to settling the business of the last one. Also, if I am going to be sitting around a table with a woman who actually writes amazing fiction, shouldn’t I be producing something that could at least be described as a credible effort?
But in July it would be lovely if there could be a day or two here or there when nothing at all happens, except lying around and reading and dreaming. I hope that’s the kind of July all of you are getting to have.