Thursday, November 28, 2013

wish me good work

This afternoon I was at a coffee shop, drinking mocha and writing filler in my notebook. I have this fantasy of filling a notebook a month and rarely hit the mark. I make the excuse that my writing is small or the pages are many or the lines are narrow. When I think I have a chance at filling a notebook in a month, the entries take a slide. I'll write short-lined poetry with loads of stanza breaks. I'll make lists. I'll make fancy thought clusters. I'll do anything but dense prose.

So I was doing that mess when a woman came in carrying grocery bags, a newspaper tucked under her arms. She was only in the shop to throw away her cup and leave the paper. I asked for the paper and she saw my notebook and asked about that and then we had a nice conversation about living abroad and kids and weather. Her daughter's friend is in an undergrad writing program, has always wanted to be a writer. She asked me what I was writing and I said a collection of short fiction.

Then she asked my name. She asked me to spell my last name. She looked up and nodded, maybe filing it away. She wanted to know if I'd publish here in Kuwait. This woman stepped into my afternoon, interrupting a notebook page full of

I can't see as far as I'd like.


God, I don't know what I'm doing.


A minor panic at the thought of this process.


I am in the middle and not ready at all.


But I will make it work - God help me.

And this woman stands at my table and asks my last name so she can remember me when she sees that mouthful of a surname on a book. Bless her. Her husband was waiting, she had to go. "I wish your luck," she said, and then, "Not luck. I don't wish luck. I wish you -" she looked at the ceiling and I said, "Work. Wish me good work."

She laughed and wished me good work.

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