Monday, April 17, 2006

Large and containing multitudes

After not working on the Book-In-Process for a full week, this weekend I spent another few hours copying and pasting old blog entries. Already, I'm deciding that I have enough material for not one but two eventual books: one focusing on my explorations here in Keene, and another focusing on my travels to other places. (Think Thoreau in Walden vs. Thoreau in Cape Cod or The Maine Woods.)

Finding time to work on Another Huge Project (a term which is rapidly becoming my pet name for the Book-In-Progress) during the last weeks of the term is understandably daunting...but I'm finding that schedule constraints are among the least of my worries. As I mentioned in my previous post, revisiting old blog entries is a bit creepy. As much as I insist that Hoarded Ordinaries is nothing more than a place blog, there's a lot of personal stuff in there, too...and my best, most resonant entries (I think) are the ones where I braid the two strands of Place and Personal.

This is an issue I'm currently working on in my teaching. Next year, I'll be teaching a pilot Integrative Studies course on "The Art of Natural History," and that course is grounded on the premise that nature writing represents the marriage of Art and Science as it employs the narrative strategies of both autobiography and science writing. There's always an "I" in nature and natural history writing, but some writers efface that authorial presence more than others do. In my blog, the observing "I" is always there--I don't keep an objective stance as a strict science writer "should"--so revising my blog posts offers the particular challenge of revisiting myself and my writing during a time when a lot was going on for me personally.

As you write a blog from day-to-day, you don't worry about contradicting yourself, nor do you try to trace the patterns that connect Today with Yesterday. Instead, you focus on Right Here, Right Now as you try to capture the mood and moment of a particular spot in time. Over the last two and a half years, Keene has remained pretty much the same...but I've gotten both a doctorate and a divorce during that time, and this weekend I re-visited the posts I'd written immediately after my separation, wondering the entire time how to make a consistent, coherent narrative out of a Self who transformed herself so mightily right about halfway into the story.

One of my favorite passages from Walt Whitman might be an appropriate motto as I continue revising these posts. "Do I contradict myself," Whitman asks in his bombastically long "Song of Myself." "Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" My blog, I'm discovering, is a lot like Whitman's "Song of Myself": it's large, and it contains multitudes. Revision is about going back and making sense of it all, so I have a pretty big task ahead of me. Luckily, I'm the type of person who thrills at the prospect of Another Huge Project, so we'll see how my stamina holds up over the next few weeks.


At 4/19/2006 5:16 AM, Blogger Sky said...

are those old posts on-line? i would love to read some of them.

At 4/19/2006 7:12 AM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Yep, everything is there in my archives. If you go to HO (, look under the "Browse" heading on the sidebar on the right. There's a drop-down box for the Weekly Archives that goes all the way back to Dec 2003 when I started blogging.

Believe me, there's lots of stuff there! :-)

At 4/20/2006 6:17 PM, Blogger leslee said...

So in your revisions are you trying to resolve the contradictions, i.e., excise things that don't fit or change them so they do, or add something to bridge the contradictions? How are you working the revisions?

At 4/21/2006 7:20 AM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Great question, Leslee. It's challenging compositionally...on the one hand, you don't want glaring contradictions, but on the other, you don't want to smooth everything so much that the writing becames lifeless. I think some contradiction creates dramatic tension, so you want to tame the dragon without killing it, so to speak.

Originally I envisioned constructing a "book of days" that represented a single year (like Thoreau's *Walden*, which he revised to compile two years' worth of journal entries into one). But it doesn't make sense to have a husband in some entries & no husband in others. :-)

So I'm leaning toward breaking the book into three sections, one for arriving (with husband) in Keene, one for separating, and one for settling in on my own. So instead of one year/seasonal cycle, it would be roughly three, which would allow for the possibility of change/contradiction.

But the sort answer is, "I have no real clue how I'm going to work the revisions, so wish me luck, please!" ;-)

At 4/21/2006 7:31 AM, Blogger leslee said...

¬°Buena suerte! I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work. This is a very exciting project. Can't wait to see it in print!!

At 4/27/2006 11:56 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

I would love to hold a book of your thoughts in my hand, Lorianne.

At 4/28/2006 3:14 AM, Blogger Sky said...

thanks, lorianne. will go to your archives one sleepless night or rainy afternoon and read more of your life. i enjoy very much the posts in HO which reveal "you" and not just the place. will be good reading!

i, too, am excited about this book which we will all hold one day! great dream come true and hard work for you and eager anticipation for us!

At 4/28/2006 3:18 AM, Blogger Sky said...

lol...i just noticed our avatars look like we are actually having a conversation based the way we are facing and the angle of our faces! ;)

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