Lately I have been reading more. I also watch more TV than I previously ever have in my life thanks to hulu. On some level I feel a bit guilty for this but on another I am delighted when I actually get passing references made to popular shows. I also mostly watch TV while doing something else (eating, copying and pasting numbers into tables, sewing, crocheting) so I don’t feel that the time is wasted. But I am even more delighted to be reading again regularly. Lately I have been pulled deeply in Sharyn McCrumb’s novels. And reading her descriptions of the mountains of Tennessee and the people of the small town she sets the Ballad novels in leaves me filled with a certain longing. In part it is a longing for that life, for knowing the names of the people around you, knowing their histories. I recognize that as the idealized myth of the small town. There is always a line between the insiders and the outsiders. And there are things about small towns that plan and simply suck, even if you are local, even if you hate cities. I think McCrumb does a good job of capturing some of the distinctions between insider and outsider, and some of the ambiguities of small places. But she does an even better job, I think, of capturing why even an outsider might stay. And I will admit that her characters leave me reminiscent for certain people from my youth. And the books dredge up some of my own ambivalence about having left rural WI. As much as I spent years of my adolescence wishing I were anywhere else, I recognize why my parents, outsiders still after nearly 30 years there, stay. And sometimes, I find myself auditioning fantasies of returning (or moving somewhere else similarly scenic and sparse where I would have to learn the social order from scratch; which I practically would anyway if I returned to Cazenovia).
More than that, though, I find myself longing to write. I find myself trying to imagine putting together a story that would grip readers. I find myself sinking into that feeling that there is a poem at the tip of my pen waiting to be born. But, despite this, I fail to bring pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I bought a notebook for poetry and a journal. Both are still nearly empty. I reopened an old poetry project. I copied and pasted a few lines, moved a few things, wrote a draft of a poem that I think fits into the series. But ultimately I have done almost nothing to reclaim the reality of writing. It has been some 10 years since I thought of myself really deeply and primarily as “poet.” Now if you asked me to describe myself I don’t think it would even make the list. I feel the need to change that but I’m not sure how. I don’t think I will ever publish novels. But I would like to at least write poems. I would at least like to again feel that words are friends welcome to drop into my home at their slightest whim.
Perhaps to that end I will try to organize my old poetry that I like into an online collection (as it used to be on previous iterations of my web spaces). Perhaps I will succeed in writing here more, as I keep telling myself I should. At the least I will continue to read and to long for words, with the hope that by inviting myself into their homes I will open the door for things to flow the other way. And I’ll stick that poetry notebook back in my purse where it belongs. Maybe I’ll even fold it open for a few minutes with pen in hand first, just to see what happens.