After an early thunderstorm and the requisite farmers’ market visit, Saturday offered a perfect day for a long walk, and ours took us to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, for the Pole Steeple Overlook and Mountain Creek Trail.
It also offered a point of perspective, a chance to take a longer view. Though summer hasn’t even properly started, its shape is now clear:
There’s the novel draft. (There’s always a novel draft. There are also other things I want to write, and I have a contract with myself: once the novel draft is settled, I’ll work on those short things and let the manuscript rest, properly rest.) And there are, of course, syllabi to write—exacerbated by my tendency to never want to teach a class the same way twice—and administrative tasks to complete. All those necessities that can’t really be squeezed into the confines of the regular semester, like developing an assessment plan for the new creative writing major, writing the grant report for Writing: A Life, doing some curriculum development work, and finally organizing my bookshelves, are in their queue. I’m reading Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey for the Pennsylvania Chautauqua’s summer book review series, and it’s so well done. I feel like I’m drinking it, it’s that effortless a read (and thus I’m feeling sanguine about teaching it in my “Heroes and Legends” class in the spring). That’s an rousing recommendation, by the way: to make a translation of so gargantuan and venerable a text as The Odyssey go down so smoothly means that there is untold effort beneath the delectable surface readers get to devour. I feel similarly about Madeline Miller’s Circe, which, incidentally, is likely to end up on the same syllabus.
But the book talk isn’t until mid-August. I don’t usually go falling down the syllabi warren until mid-July. Why be so eager to dive in on all of it when the semester’s wax still hasn’t cooled?
Because I’ve been accepted for a residency at the Vermont Studio Center for July and also as a contributor in fiction for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Thanks to some crucial institutional support from both VSC and Lebanon Valley College, I’m going to make doing both of these staggeringly lovely opportunities work. And I owe it to both of these spaces and to my own craft to make sure that I’m ready to be present and focused during my time in Vermont. So. All things in their time, and the time for these things is now.
I’m looking forward to long walks in Vermont, too.