Squirrels, snow, and the internet
I have not been able to write online because our internet has been off and on for the last three weeks. First it was because of squirrels. Apparently, they like to chew on cables; the technicians have to run their hands along the entire cable to discover where the bites actually are. I am not sure what “entire cable” means. Is this the cable between my house and the pole? Or is it the cable that goes up the hill to some box on another street? The Verizon people have mentioned this box several times. They say there is something wrong there as well, but I myself have never seen this box. Call me suspicious, but once they drive away to the box, they never come back. Either the box has eaten 4 Verizon technicians, or the box is a surefire way to escape the scene.
The snow complicated matters. I felt guilty pestering Verizon when the next town over did not have power. At any rate, I have developed a new interest in cables. I look at them swooping along overhead and wish I could wrap them up in flannel blankets, protect them from incursions. I have had long phone sessions with the Verizon people and although I like finding out where they are and what time it is in Delhi or Mexico City, and even though I know the poor soul on the other line is not at fault, I still snarl. Over the years I have developed a system where after I snarl, I apologize for snarling, but then I always end up snarling some more. The Penal Colony comes to mind. I also think of the Penal Colony whenever I am at the Registry for Motor Vehicles.
Meanwhile, I have been tinkering with the first two pages of the manuscript for the last five weeks. That is about a word a day. Not that I write a word a day. Instead I take one out, sling it back in, lace phrases all around, remove them immediately. Then I feel badly about my “writing process.” I can only see this phrase in quotes as the word “process” is too gentle a term for what goes on at my desk. Why are sentences not “flowing” straight from my heart and mind? Where are my heart and mind? After hours of this, I lose track. I re read and re read. Should I let the reader into how I know things about my characters, or just stay in the world of the story. Should it read: “Mary felt . . .” Or, “According to her diary, Mary felt .. .”
Today, I took a break to look at David McCullough’s John Adams — the how did he do it kind of break — and felt discouraged. The Marys is not a jaunty tale of early New England. Neither Mary canters over snowy fields to serve her country. Neither one helps found a country. I suppose this doesn’t matter. Both Marys are brave and both are pioneers, but their stories are not presidential. Not at all.