And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
We came home last Sunday from three weeks away to find the yard and pastures clothed in such an exuberance of green it almost hurt to look at them, particularly when a-dazzle with the golden light of a late May sun. Three weeks ago, we had left a timid spring behind, all pale leaves and misty showers, and we had come back to—Summer. My heart hailed it with a comrade’s joy. I cherish all of the seasons in their turn, but in recent years I’ve rekindled my childhood love affair with summer. There’s such an Eden-like quality to these young days of warmth and new growth, an innocence about the long twilights and dew-wet dawns that awakens some of my most elemental longings and visions. With the paring down of the outward life in summertime comes a ritualistic inspection of my inner world—I believe that Philip and I have more important conversations about what we want to do with our lives in the summer than any other time of the year. We’re having those conversations now, leaning into the luxury of these long afternoons, scanning the prospect of the season ahead (literally and figuratively) from this last green hill of May.
It’s been a satisfying spring, deeply clarifying in its own right. I’ve been quietly hammering away at some long-held goals, wondering how the days can slip by so quickly under the glad burden of hard work. And I’ve thrown my cap over a couple of fences, one academic and one literary (I’ll let you know what comes of either…). In the bookshop, Poesy is coming along. It’s been such an amazing thing to see my own words forming into a book beneath my own hands. As each and every page has to be folded separately by hand, you can imagine what an intimate and contemplative task it’s been. There are boxes and boxes of signatures (folded components of sixteen pages) in the bookshop, ready to be hand sewn into text blocks—I am so eager to jump into this stage of the process as it’s my very favorite.
I’ve been working steadily on my novel, as well. My writing partner and I met for lunch the week before Philip and I left on our trip to discuss our latest challenge. I wandered off into an explanation of why I thought I’d commit to “hours spent at desk” as opposed to actual word count—when my wise and loving friend drew me up short. “Lanier, that’s not really working for you,” she said, leaning across the table with a knowing look beneath her cocked brow. “It’s time to get this story out.” She was exactly right, and I knew it. There is a place for day-dreamy dawdling before a blank screen—she and I both know such times are never wasted. But when dawdling becomes procrastination (which is just a nice word for scared-out-of-my-mind), it’s a real problem. I realized in that moment that I wasn’t progressing with my book for the simple reason that I was afraid I would ruin it by writing it. Feels good to name such things, and to have another writer pat your arm knowingly and tell you to get back to work. She set the bar at 800 words per day—which I happily exceeded during our weeks away, in a burst of recklessly awful first draft material I’d die if anyone set eyes on. But that’s what the first draft is for! Much as I love my characters and think I know their story, I won’t know anything till I get all my own ideas out of the way. It’s only then that this tale (and its people) can take me where it wants to go. That’s the real magic, of course. Let’s hope I can keep up the momentum now that we’re home again…
Lastly, I’m excited to announce that I (finally) have a few new Elizabeth Goudge titles in the bookshop: a lovely copy of Gentian Hill, the beautiful Devonshire tale set during the Napoleonic wars; two copies of the hard-to-find God So Loved the World, which is Goudge’s exquisite telling of the life of Christ; and the anthology A Book of Comfort, containing some of her most dearly loved poems, quotes and prayers for “the difficulties and challenges of life.” (I’ve certainly put some wear on my own personal copy of that latter.) You can find them here.
I feel like this is the breeziest of updates on a series of intensely full and challenging and exciting months. But I want to wish all of you the very happiest entrance into this burgeoning season, and to say that I hope this summer nurtures your soul with the warmth of youth and all the lustre of undying things. Blessings and Peace to you, friends. Thank you so much for coming by. You make me brave just by being there.
Under the Mercy,