Well, teaching the baby Chinese didn't quite work out — not his fault, of course; he's clearly a brilliant child, but I was focusing on Szechzwan dialect and my guess is he is more of a Mandarin kind of guy. And the grocery shopping didn't take nearly as long as I had hoped. So here I am, alas, facing my empty computer screen again.... At least I like my first sentence for the piece. It includes the word bunny, and I always like to start a story with at least one word I like a lot. Let's hope the New Yorker doesn???t insist on changing that to rabbit — it just doesn't have the same feel as bunny, does it? And yes, I know the story is about pigeons, not bunnies, but... well, if I ever get the story written, you'll see why bunnies fit in.
Of course, today, it's not a matter of Creative Procrastination: it's a JACKHAMMER outside my window that's been chewing up the concrete for the last three hours. I work at home these days — I have an office at the New Yorker, but since I'm living in Boston, my New Yorker office exists mostly as a little shrine to my old notebooks and a collection of Mao propaganda posters that I thought gave the place a little pizzazz. Anyway, what is it with me and jackhammers? My apartment in New York (where I lived until 2 years ago) was at an intersection that had some sort of infrastructure problems, and it was jackhammered up and paved over and jackhammered up again about ten times in the course of my life there. And can I just say that the sound of a jackhammer is not exactly helpful during the creative process? And can I also say that I thought, when moving to Boston, I was more or less moving to a quaint small town, where there would be no such thing as JACKHAMMERING. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Not only is Boston not a quaint little town, it's a town under construction. I live downtown, in an old machine-screw factory, right over the Big Dig — the world's largest public works project (I'm not kidding; it really is) — so something is always being blown up, or torn down, or dug up, or paved over. Maybe I won't be able to write this piece after all. Maybe I can just submit the word bunny to my editor?
One of you wisenheimers asked what I thought of the movie Adaptation, so, what the hell, I figure I might as well answer. I love the movie — it's hilarious and a remarkable commentary on the nature of writing and of passion itself. I am a thousand times happier to have had a great movie made from my book, even though it's not faithful to the book (well, it's faithful to the book and then goes off on its own crazy path), than to have some boring, labored Hollywood effort to "accurately" adapt the book. And having Meryl Streep play me was an out-of-body experience. Literally.
Wait — a break in the jackhammering! Back to work!
Books mentioned in this post
Susan Orlean is the author of My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere