Status report: It’s been a dreadful day. Would you like to know what I did for most of it? Well, I’m going to tell you. When I first wrote Chapter 2, I used the Penguin edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray. But the scholarly edition, the edition used by scholars in their research – what they call the authoritative version – is the Oxford Complete Works. So what I did today was go through the last section of Chapter 2, which is on Dorian Gray and “The Soul of Man under Socialism” (for which I had used the Harper & Row Complete Works), check all the quotations, and correct all page numbers in the parenthetical citations. Every single one. It took hours.
I keep telling myself that I’m learning valuable things in this process, but sometimes I’m so bored that I could sob into my decorative pillows, and sometimes I’m so bitter that I could kick the walls. And I’m starting to feel the way I felt when I was working as a corporate lawyer: as though I’m spending time that I could be spending doing so many other things – writing stories that people are actually going to read, for instance. I think my disenchantment with academic writing started the day I went to a seminar on publishing academic books and learned that selling 3,000 copies was considered a success – an academic best-seller. At that point, I had already published my short story collection, and it had sold well over 3,000 copies. And I thought, but I want people to read what I write. I don’t want my work to sit in a library somewhere, where only graduate students consult it. I want to communicate.
So, as I mentioned, today was dreadful. Once my work was done, I had to do something. I didn’t know what – it was already seven o’clock, and here I was in the suburbs, with nowhere to go. Stuck.
So I did the best I could. When I’m feeling desperate, I usually try to make or change something. So I went to the fabric store and bought a pillow insert, so I could make a pillow out of the fabric I bought yesterday. I don’t have time to actually make it now, but at least I have everything I need, for when I have the time. Then, I went to the bookstore and bought three decorating books. These, specifically:
Something seems to have happened to decorating, and I think it’s a good thing. It’s an interest in a more casual, artistic, cottage style. That’s the style I like best, using older pieces, making rooms beautiful, comfortable, filled with space and light. But also quirky, with individuality and character. Each of these books is about that style. I bought the French General book specifically because I like the French General aesthetic: it’s actually a store in California that sells all sorts of things, including fabric designed by the owners. Here is the store’s website.
So today I’m completely despondent, but at least tonight I’ll have beautiful pictures to look at. And I’ll think about what I want in the house I’m going to have, someday. That Witch’s Cottage I’ve been wanting for so long, with the high, airy rooms, and the old wooden furniture, and the claw-foot tub. And the cat sitting in the window, while white gauze curtains blow in the breeze. (With an enormous garden, filled with roses and herbs, and a sundial, and a pond.) That’s the sort of thing I need to keep me going, when I’m dealing with everything I’m dealing with now. That dream, and the knowledge that I’m working to make it a reality.