Sunday, November 24


Some days before I left, in the whirlwind of trying to say goodbye to as many people, I noticed that my movements had been accompanied by a nervous twitch, a stutter that was more pronounced than usual and which visited even if I was talking to the usual suspects. I had belatedly discovered it to be giddiness.

I learned of the news of the residency a year ago--a Hong Kong number calling my phone and, when I picked up, a posh voice offering her profuse congratulations--and the long delay sort of bridled any meaningful form of excitement. And so when it arrived, slowly then quickly in which all dearly awaited things did, it materialized as a weight, which burdened my chest and manifested through awkwardness and unease.

I've been here for eight days, and of course I always go back: mostly to the untold number of hours spent poring over drafts and reading and sleeping surrounded by books. When in Bangalore I found myself on the receiving end of incredulous questioning by Indian immigration officials, writing fiction became most material to me, as if it booked the flights and arranged for the three months of hopefully productive toil, which it did, essentially. Isn't that numinous? For some time now, I had derived all manner of livelihood from writing, but never fiction, never this thing that I love and sometimes, in this one grand display as an instance, loved me back.

Afflicted with change and so far unable to write a word, I have resorted to taking long walks and deliriously formatting my manuscript, so that more and more I am seeing its shape, and it is becoming real and true. While the mornings here are unreal in their crisp, twittering perfection, the work that is being done, I feel, is pure, safe from the madding outside.

I had envisioned some sort of a weekly accomplishment report: to keep me working and to also record this part of my life that just might be crucial.  This week, there is nothing except (1) the revision of several stories, (2) a provisional title that one fellow resident said she liked, and (3) being mistaken for a local twice. Nothing more: my first thought in the morning is still perplexed amazement. Here's hoping clarity will never (fully) arrive.