forests of piano songs*

Schubert and Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saëns. Rain on the roof.

I began near the bottom of the document this morning, at the place I marked, yesterday: “WRITE ABOUT THE NAZIS.”  I’ve written about them. They are not the main idea of the paper, just a contrast my author obligingly provides to help readers see what she means by her main point.

Were it not for the necessity of reading what I write, making each new thing fit with the things that came before, I could write more quickly. If it were only writing and writing, on and on about whatever idea struck me next, the thing would be easy. Today I delayed an hour, because the next step, after writing the Nazis, was to read the eleven pages so far complete in this section, to see where there were holes, which ends needed to be gathered and tied up.

If I type and print sixty pages of rambling thoughts on anything in particular, and you read them and decorate them with a gold star sticker or some other signifier of success, could we all just go home happily?

Instead, I comb over the novels which comprise my topic, finding ideas for many more theses than I plan to write. The atmosphere was perfect and inspiring this morning, but in the afternoon, I was only inspired to play the piano music I’d heard in the morning, to color the Vacation Bible School decorations my mother is assembling, and to read a book on economics which, in a rather amusing twist, has become my “fun” reading when I get tired of working with novels.

But I suspect, when it is finished and shelved in the Leland Speed Library, the English department conference room, and my closet, I’ll miss having the thesis to face each day.  I’ll remember less about the distracted, tangled times, and more of the mornings like this one, with its perfect atmosphere and its ready-made idea to write, the coffee-shop afternoons when the pages seem to write themselves and I don’t feel like the only person in the world doing academic writing. Still, though, I don’t expect I’ll want to read it.

Then — but we’ll meet then when it arrives, after we have finished with now. Now today’s pages have all be written, though they are fewer than I planned; now is the time to sleep, though there is no roof-rain lullaby.



*title from “I Never Knew You from the Sun,” by The Innocence Mission

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