Watering the Beast

This has been my view for the last four + months:

I brought very few books here to Munich because I’m a very slow reader you can only pack so many books in a bag that you then force very politely ask your husband-to-be to carry. David is actually a bit of a book fiend, so he doesn’t mind — he has a storage space back in California devoted entirely to Greek books. (There are apparently something like 4,000 books in it. Wish us luck when we finally have our own permanent home and all those suckers come with us. I might have to consult Anne Fadiman on that one.)

Anyway. I digress.

Since February, I’ve been looking at these eight (or nine if your count the mini Shambhala book). But really I’ve been looking at these three: Claire Dederer’s Poser; Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in My Head; and more recently, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I’ve carried them to and from the Thesaurus linguae Latinae and left them open on my desk. I’ve pored over them, underlined and dog-eared pages, read and re-read and re-re-read, asking myself (head in hands, sometimes in awe, sometimes in frustration): How did she do that? Why is it that after sixteen reads I still cry at this one spot? Why is this still so funny? How does she get so swiftly to this moment of recognition? How did these writers not give up on themselves?

You know the drill. These books are beautiful and brilliant guides for writing a book. I am in awe of these women. I want to bow down and thank them for having, above all else, finished these amazing works so that I could carry them into my life and be changed and inspired by them.

The last few days I’ve spent too much time watching Parenthood (on a related note: HOW GOOD IS IT?!) had a bit of an ache in my heart. We leave Munich in a week, and so much has changed since we arrived in the dead of winter. For one, I still can’t speak German I’m leaving with a hubby-to-be. We have a wedding weddings (don’t ask) to plan. We know where we’ll be living next year (more on this another time, but let’s just say it doesn’t involve speaking English). We’ve made a few wonderful friends here and I’ll miss our quiet life — one without beeping cell phones or the regular consumption of vegetables an overpacked New York schedule. I’ll miss this private time in which we became true partners.

And yet, I don’t think this ache has anything to do with that. It has to do with (almost) coming to the (first) end of my 250-page beast of a thesis — a project I’ve been carrying around in my head and my heart and — really — my body for years. It is only a draft and will need to be thrown out rewritten in a million ways before I can call it a book without laughing (I call it a “book”), but I will now be able to graduate something preliminary and real is on the page. So many far more qualified people have written about this experience, so I won’t embarrass myself further go on about it, but suffice it to say, it is satisfying and horrifying all at once. It will probably never be all I want it to be, and yet, it is something small and precious and workable and alive. I’ll continue to water it and keep you posted.


7 thoughts on “Watering the Beast

  1. kyram16

    That is a beautiful albeit small, collection of books. My eyes were instantly drawn to “Teach Us To Sit Still” which sounds wonderfully intriguing. Is it any good?

  2. Pat McNees

    Congratulations on finishing the first draft. I have no doubt you will have a wonderful book when you finish. And thank you for the list of books I have to look forward to. How is your Latin coming along?

    The one time I was in Germany I came away craving green veggies! All I can remember being on the menu (we were traveling) was potatoes and cabbage (red). I yearned for a green salad.

  3. Sarah P.

    You’re an inspiration, Lady. I’m trying to keep on-pace to have my own little (well, probably monstrously long, until it’s edited down) plantlet by this time next year.
    See you soon?

  4. Linda O'Dor

    Hi Abby
    Your blog is very entertaining, kind of like me:) Have David tell you about his know it all cousin from Ohio!

    I’m thrilled he shared his bookshelf(ves) with you and look forward to meeting you. He has a few more books in Columbus OH to add to that collection of (boring) 4000 in So Cal.

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