#255: Cleanup Review

#255: Cleanup Review
James Turrell Sky Space, University of Texas, Austin, TX

Progress on the house has been slow again this week. The carpenter was preparing for the window install, which I’m told is happening any day now. When I stopped by the house on Saturday there were long thin boards painted white, set out on sawhorses to dry. These are going to be the jambs, I think. I’m hoping for a swift install; we had our first 40-degree night this week and I can already feel winter around the corner.

Saturday there was an alley cleanup in the neighborhood. The city provided our block club with a dumpster and tools for clearing out the trash and “alley trees”  –  thick, hearty, overgrown weeds, some as tall as ten feet, and smelling of peanut butter and old coffee  –  in the alleys between the blocks.

Late in the morning some grade-schoolers in the neighborhood got wind our project and came to help. First it was a three cousins from a block over, who then spread the word, and by the time I left mid-afternoon our group of little helpers had tripled. In addition to loading wheelbarrows with yard waste and dragging large branches to the dumpster, we spent a good amount of time trying to negotiate the kids away from the hedge sheers and saws. While I was connecting a small, powered-off electric chainsaw:

Me: Stand back. Kid: Can I try the chainsaw? Me: I can’t let you touch that. Kid: Why not? Me: You might cut yourself. Kid: No I won’t. Me: What would your mom do if you cut yourself with that? Or your cousin? Kid: She’d cuss me out. Me: See, if I let you use those and you get hurt, your mom’s going to cuss me out. I don’t want that to happen. Kid (sheepish): That’s not gonna happen …

We’d planned to cover the alley behind the new house today, but the weather this morning didn’t agree with our plans. Maybe next time.

Writing-wise, I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped while J and I were in Austin. One of these days I’m going to learn how to write while on the road. Still, I more or less wrapped up Storyline A in the new draft, and have started on Storyline B. Because the story jumps back and forth between the two, my plan going forward is to re-read and quickly revise the A scenes as I write the corresponding B scenes. I’m not entirely sure if this is going to work! But we shall see.

I mentioned in earlier letters my goal of 1,500 words/day for the month, for a total September count of 45,000 words. I did a quick review today and my actual output was closer to half of that. I’m setting a more modest goal of a 1,000 words/day for October. That would get me close to a complete draft.

But again: we’ll see. I’m taking things day by day.