Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday night at Ucross

Oct. 16

It's Saturday night at Ucross; the foundation staffers have the weekend off. It's been a strange day, kind of lonely actually. It's 6:40 p.m. right now and I've been in my studio most of the day, "writing." All day I've been writing about two people who love each other but are essentially mismatched and drifting apart. No wonder I feel a little blue myself. I have never had this much time before to myself to think and write and ponder and try to figure out character and plot, at least not in a meaningful and sustained way. Before I came here I wasn't sure what the trajectory of the story was, what would happen, what plot points were important. I worried that I didn't have enough. Now I think I may be juggling too many balls, character and action-wise. Or maybe not. I'll just have to see.

I called home tonight and talked to the "boys"--husband and son. It sounds like they've been holed up in the house since noon watching football game after football game. The Missouri Tigers won today so they're both happy about that. They sound cheerful and glassy-eyed and a little slap-happy. I miss them. But. The last thing I want to do is watch a football game.

I slept in until 8 a.m., read in bed until 9 a.m., and then headed over to the School House for breakfast. (Yogurt and Grape Nuts.) After infusions of strong French Roast, it was back to the studio. A couple of residents had talked earlier about a field trip to the Big Horns, but I decided to pass because I screwed off a lot yesterday (Friday). Some of us had gone into Sheridan to stock up on personal items like aspirin or snack stuff. (Beef jerky and a pound of wasabi/soy sauce almonds for me.) We stopped at the Salvation Army Thrift store and Molly, a Ucross intern who likes to swing dance, bought a sexy black sleeveless dress with a fuchsia net petticoat for $5. She looks delicious in it. (Molly is pictured in the photo at the beginning of this post.) Yenta, a nonfiction writer from Holland, bought a pair of ostrich-skin cowboy boots and I bought a purple cloche hat that reminds of the hat Norman Maclean's Presbyterian mom (Brenda Blethyn) wears in the Redford movie "A River Runs Through It." It's a little flapper number, silly but sweet.

A little while ago Cindy, the cook, brought her dog Toby by so I could meet him. He is the strangest dog I have ever seen! (And I have seen and owned my share of strange-looking dogs.) This dog looks like he was drawn by a 7-year-old. He seems to be part Rhodesian Ridgeback (the hair on his spine stands straight up like a cowlick), part Briard, and part Australian shepherd. He looks like he got his paw stuck a light socket. He's all wiry fur that stands up on end, and huge triangular ears the size of oven mitts. He has a brown eye and a blue/gray eye and his coat is mottled black and gray. You look at him and have to laugh. I wish I had taken a picture of him.

I have this fantasy that I'm going to get a rough draft of this book done before I leave on Nov. 5. Am I on drugs? No, unless it's the Helium of Hope. I'm averaging about six-seven pages a day. That feels incredibly slow to me but it's all new territory and I'm in excavation mode. Does this process sound like a terrible waste of time to you? It's the only way I know how to write.

I'm having terrible insomnia. There are thousands of little bugs around here; they look like beetles, only they are black with red markings and they can fly. They're trying to come inside for the winter and they are everywhere. I am not squeamish about bugs, but I hate to feel these things on my body. For the past few nights, every time I drift off to sleep (light on, book in hand, 1 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m.), I'm jarred awake by one of these animals crawling on my neck or creeping up my arm. At first I tried to be Zen about it and not kill them, but now I don't care; I squash every one I can find with impunity. Reincarnation be damned! A girl needs her sleep.

Tomorrow, in honor of Sunday, I will honor the sabbath by reading the New York Times online.



  1. It's wonderful to hear about your day. You're getting a lot done!!!

  2. I like your religiosity! Writers everywhere say "Amen Sista!"

    PS: 16 pages a day? Fricken ahamazing!

    D'arcy's got her groove on~


  3. Nooooo, Teri, not 16 pages a day!! Try six. Six if I'm lucky. You should SERIOUSLY think about applying here. I mean it. You won't be able to bring your dog (and I'm having huge withdrawals from missing mine) but trust me, this would be so good for Lake Assumption -- and you. Think about it, Teri.