Monday, March 9, 2009

VCCA, Week Two Update

I finished my second week here, and the six foot icicle (no exaggeration) outside my bedroom window has melted away. I became sort of obsessed (shock) watching it daily—like a pet--
and was sad when warmer weather meant its ultimate demise. In fact, being in this hyper-creative mode made me start thinking how my work here was like the icicle—every day I’d head off to my studio and stare at my novel slowly taking place on the computer, adding to it bit by bit—or, drip by drip, just like the icicle, growing, growing, growing. When I noted this to another writer he added, “Until it gets big enough to kill you”—which was suitable literally for the icicle and metaphorically for the novel. And I admired how the icicle hung in there, sticking around through increasingly warmer weather…until the day that was 70ish. I got back to my room and saw it was gone. That’s when I abandoned the “novel as icicle" metaphor.

I also finished reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates and HIGHLY recommend it, though it isn’t exactly cheerful. I would have to study it more closely, but it may be as nicely structured as The Great Gatsby (how dare I say such a thing!). But on page 200ish, there was an important turn, and I happened to notice that I was 2/3 of the way through the book. So I flipped back to page 100ish, and sure enough, there was another key and important turn—at 1/3 of the way through the 330-page book.

I haven’t watched T.V. since I’ve been here. I’m no snob, and I was sad to miss the "Top Chef" finale (though since I was unhappy with the outcome maybe it’s just as well that I wasn’t watching and throwing shoes at the TV set), but I will say that going without any TV for three weeks is probably good for me.

I’ve started reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair for research. I’ll tell you, it’s hard to complain about ANYTHING when you’re reading about turn-of-the-century immigrants falling into meatpacking machinery and being turned into lard. It’s interesting that Sinclair wrote the book hoping to raise concern for the workingman’s plight—which was wretched, and surely still is—and got instead a public outrage over food safety standards. Yes, that was good, too, but it’s hard to imagine reading this book and not feeling moved by the people, too. (It was more than a bit creepy to be reading the book one afternoon and then to hear the famous VCCA cows suddenly start mooing in an agitated way in the distance.)

I'm looking forward to another productive week, and then it's back to the real world for me.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.