Thursday, November 14, 2013

dha dhin dhin dha: letter from Portland

Dear friends,

It is strange to be living in a city again after a several years of mountain cabins and forest shacks. Techie Boyfriend and I are living in a room in a sprawling house owned by a hippie real estate baron. We have twelve roommates. If you have ever lived in a hippie house with twelve roommates, you can probably tick them off your fingers like reindeer: Stoner Roommate, New Age Roommate, Loud Sex Roommate, Friendly Roommate, Roommate Nobody In the House Has Actually Met. Occasionally, a stranger will appear on the front porch and announce that they are "the new roommate." Our landlady is fond of dumping people into the house like fish into a bowl, and seeing if they fight, make peace, or need to be removed with a net a few days later.

Despite the crowdedness, things are actually quite harmonious most of the time. We live a block away from a donut shop and a pizzeria, so somebody is always bringing home giant bags of free food they scored in the alley. Plus, Friendly Roommate works at a cidery, so there are always a few bottles of apple cider lying around with which to numb the pain when someone's late-night ukelele jam is driving you insane.

Before I became a writer, I thought I might be a musician. Over the past five years, I had more or less given up music in order to devote my time to blogging, editing, and writing books. But on the day WILD AWAKE came out, I started taking music lessons again. And even though I still spend most of my time writing, a big part of my daily existence has returned to the study of music.

This is the instrument I am playing:

(The small drum on the left is called a tabla, and the big one on the right is called a bayan. Together, you just call them "tabla.")

When I'm not working on Novel 2, I am practicing the tabla or accompanying Techie Boyfriend's raga lessons (yes, we are studying compatible instruments. Barf if you must.) For me, music feels like a return to childhood. I get to leave the part of my brain that spends all day plotting and scheming and trying to make all the pieces of a novel work, and go to this very simple place of sound and rhythm that feels to me like pure delight. After Novel 2 is done, I just might run away to join a Qawwali group and give the next five years to music (or however long it takes for writing to claim my brain again.)

Speaking of writing, some humble news-ish items to conclude this missive:

-First, I will be in Boston from November 21-23 for the National Convention of Teachers of English. If you are a Teacher of English who is going to be there, please come say hello at HarperCollins Booth #1008, Hynes Convention Center, from 2:00-3:00 PM on Friday. (If you are not a Teacher of English, maybe you can sneak in anyway if you put on a tweed jacket and academic-y glasses.)

-The Canadian Children's Book Centre has selected WILD AWAKE as a Best Canadian Book for Kids and Teens 2013. I remember seeing this logo in elementary school, so it feels pretty cool to have them pick my book.

-WILD AWAKE was also selected as a Best Books of November in the Australia/New Zealand iBookstore. If you are in that part of the world, you can download it here.

Friends, I am on a December 1st deadline for this draft of Novel 2, so I will scuttle off to the library and attend to that.

Am sending you all warm thoughts even if I haven't been interacting much online. If you are ever in Portland and want to jam, you know how to get in touch.

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