Some say they hole up and write the most and their best in the winter months, when brooding skies, cold and rain and snow, drive them indoors. Picture the well-stoked fire, the over-worn sweater, the steaming urns of soup and cups of tea. What a cozy picture. But not for me. I’m like some kind of summer vampire. The light glows brighter and I’m twisting my shoulders away from sun, hiding indoors during the heat of the day — the air-conditioned library serves me best — emerging in the early evening for a glass (or 3) of chilled white wine and a mental wind-down.
I was never one of those kids who eyed the start of summer. I didn’t care for that kind of freedom. I craved the routine of school: the ringing bells, the expectation of a real lunch, the paper-shuffle-quiet of test taking, the structure of playground games like Tether Ball and Four Square.
As this summer comes on, I’m shuffling paper and getting to work. And I’ve got Dorothy Allison on the brain. Last week I watched a short interview where she talks about growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, and writing about the country of her imagination. You can find it here (Dorothy’s part starts at the 41 minute mark). In the span of 15 minutes, she says the word “dangerous” 10 times … as in: it was dangerous for her to write about her home, her family, her real life. The country of her imagination was a place where “men were dangerous animals roaming the earth.” Dorothy wrote her first story when she was 9 yrs old. And she burned it. Then she continued to burn every single thing she wrote — feeling that her truths were just too dangerous to be out in the world — until she was 24 yrs old.
Summer’s here. I promise not to burn anything. I’m remembering Dark Shadows. And I’ve got Dorothy, brave Dorothy, on the brain. What’s got you thinking these days?