Writing what I know.

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Days swollen with time.

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The key to summer is getting out of the city. I suppose my advice presumes your urbanity. If you can see the stars at night, you are well positioned for summer. Lucky you.

In The Maytrees, Annie Dillard wrote about “days swollen with time.”  The Maytrees lived in Provincetown, and also in a beach shack away from town, up in the dunes.

I read The Maytrees on our faded green couch, and on the bed up in the loft, over several afternoons one summer in Point Reyes. Halfway through, I started reading it aloud to Denise. I didn’t start over at the beginning.

Summer days seem longer away from the city. Perhaps that’s because I cleave them with a nap, which yields two shorter days. One to savor now, the other for later.

Once you have bisected your days, effectively doubling the length of your summer, you can then decide whether or not to fill them. If you decide to fill a summer day, you should only use one ingredient at a time. A hike. A lunch. A book. A swim. A walk to the meadow. The secret to swelling your days with time is not to burst them, like an overripe berry, but to fill them right to the edge, and then stop.

Written by Christopher Parsons

July 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

I want to write down what I know.

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When I was younger, 22 to be precise, I started a journal. I also started reading the classics. Reading isn’t the right word. Devouring. I didn’t read the classics, I devoured them, hoping to infuse my veins and muscles and brain with wisdom, as if reading faster would transform me more quickly.

I remember thinking that the secret to success was knowing about people, not knowing about things. Hemingway knew about people. As did Kerouac. And Twain. And Fitzgerald. I planned to wield my knowledge of people like a sword. Fiction, the more the better, was my forge.

On weekends I would take fiction and my journal to the mountains. Sometimes to the beach. It was serious business, becoming wise.

I moved to San Francisco and signed up for a writing class. I liked writing. Well, I liked the idea of writing. My problem was finding something to write about. This was before I married Denise. Before I got laid off and before I laid people off. Before we moved to the country and grew a garden. Before I started a company. Before both of our dads had heart surgery.

I write more now, mostly for work. I write to figure things out. I have lots of things I want to figure out these days, so I am writing more. I started reading Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist today. That’s where the title of this post came from, on page 34. His character, Paul Chowder, writes to help people.

“If you feel that you have a use, if you think your writing furthers life or truth in some way, then you keep writing. But if that feeling stops, you have to find something else to do. Or die, I guess. Or mow the lawn, or go somewhere and do something, like visit a historic house, or clean up a room, or teach people something you think is worth knowing.”

Last month I left my journal on an airplane. It had my name and phone number in it. I was sure someone would call. They didn’t, and it broke my heart. Each New Year I pull out all of my journals, going back to when I was 22, and read them chronologically. I’m 34 now. I imagine doing this when I’m 84, perhaps reading into February.

Written by Christopher Parsons

June 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized