Travel

I just got back from a few days on the road. I spent some time with friends and canoed for a bit, then stayed with an old friend (from fourth grade) in Cornell since Sunday. He’s an RA there and is spending the week looking after the seniors before the graduate. Really, he just wants to see his girlfriend, I think.  

It gave me time to break my stagnation at home and sketch a few ideas for another essay. I hope to start it soon–ideally tomorrow. I finished some major edits on a short story today and hope to send that out as well. Writing, reading, traveling, writing. It seems like there should be formula somewhere. 

As I sketch out my essay and review the notes I made during my trip, I hope to write more about travel, but in the mean time, here’s a sketch since I haven’t posted in a few days. 

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Novel

I started on my novel again Monday. I began it during my winter break from mid-December to mid-January, then Imagetook a hiatus during school. I’ve been home for summer for about a week, but spent most of last week finishing final essays and creative writing assignments for classes and proofreading a literature magazine.

It felt great to hit the page again.

I’m going back to the beginning, editing to where I left off and resuming with all the threads in mind. It’s about 50,000 words now, which is about the length of The Great Gatsby. I aim to make it about 100,000, the typical soft-cover length.

So far, working on the novel has been hard but rewarding, especially since I’m neither a professional writer nor do I know what I’m going to do with it. But it begs completion. That’s enough.

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Insomnia time

ImageLast night I had a horrific case of insomnia. It hits me now and then, but it’s not regular–at least not normally. When I was in high school, I would sneak out through the garage–the front and back doors squeaked–and walk around my neighborhood. I’m blessed by a secure ring of suburbia, so I was never afraid. I watched the cars sail along the road and the televisions coloring the windows.

I descovered a word for it a few years ago:  “noctivagant,” night wandering. 

The time of an insomniac differs than a day-dweller. It seems to expand when we have nothing to fill it with, like long Sundays or silent miles passing down a long road. It’s looser, less rigid. Free. 

Sometimes I picture time like a flag on windy day, straining to break away from its pole. It rips away and glides high and free, untethered. Such is insomnia time. 

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Non-economic labels

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from “Stealth of Nations,” a blog by Robert Neuwirth

I just finished Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything, a recent book by writer and researcher F.S. Michaels. She details how an economic view of the world shapes our lives at the expense of other views. The “economic story,” as she calls it, is a way of viewing the world that takes specific biases for reality: mainly that we’re rational individuals with selfish needs behaving in an indifferent market system.

Our world expects us to conform to this monoculture and we hardly notice its pervasive dominance.

It was a fascinating book, and I hope to have a review up this week, but I read it thinking of my own self-proscribed label as a “writer.”

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The nearness of the distant

I’ve done a bad job updating this blog so far, so I’m going for a shift of focus: I’m going to make it more personal. I apologize for the gaps in posts so far. Scouts honor–and I was a Boy Scout–I’m going to post more regularly from now on. So to get to business…

I’m nearing my final weeks of junior year. Clouds cover the sky like a rumpled old blanket, sapping color from the St. Bonaventure campus. I imagine Heidegger walking by the nearby river on such days, his steel gray hair matching the clouds, his footsteps lagging as a new thought turns over in his head. He was a heavy guy. Even his name. Heidegger.

I’m writing a paper, drawing from an essay he wrote: “Who is Zarathurstra?” He analyzes the unity he sees between Nietzsche’s concepts of “overman” and “eternal recurrence,” doctrines threaded through Nietzsche’s works. The ideas are heavy, sunken cathedrals built on traditions of metaphysics dating back to Plato.

Through the dry but brilliant essay, a line stands out: “Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.”

Sometimes philosophy has poetry wedged between the arguments; the line captures my mood during these final weeks.

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