Sunday, August 08, 2010

We went to Mendocino and I taught at the Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference, a sweet gathering of writers who congregate at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg to read, write, and learn together. It was an intense time for both Christopher and me; we were both raw and emotional. The sea was wild, the fog thick. We wandered through the historic botanical gardens and when we stumbled across a tiny family cemetery--just a couple of weedy gravesites, including one for a toddler child--I burst into tears, which is not really like me.

By day I taught and grew close to my students. At night we ate big rich Mendocino dinners and drank wine. I had a blackberry mojito. Our hosts were an extraordinarily gracious couple who live in a beautiful house in the redwoods, full of art and fine woodwork and books. We had a wood-burning stove in our room.

Home now, and back at work on The Recruiter. I've had to tear it apart--really apart--abandon all hopes of retaining much of anything from my previous structure and rebuild from Ground Zero. I'm at Ground Zero now, again. It's a familiar place. I've had to kill my darlings. All my darling hard-won, hard-fought scenes.

I feel like the prize goes to the one who can endure this process, who can just keep coming back to the work "even though I fail and fail again," as poet Lucille Clifton says, "because I am adam and his mother/and these failures are my job."

That's it, exactly. These failures are my job. Bring it on.


JW said...

I recall my first time of seeing that cemetery as well. It was a moving experience that took me back to a time I never actually knew, a time when my grandfather buried some of his children at their homestead.
Your sessions were quite fruitful for me. Thanks, Alison.

Alison said...

Thanks, JW! I enjoyed my time with you as well.