Editor's note: When we decided to ask an author to kick off our weekly guest-blogging spot, we knew exactly whom to ask. Longtime Portland residents may remember Susan Orlean as a contributor to the city's alt-weekly, Willamette Week. Loyal Powells.com readers will recall that the New Yorker columnist has twice been interviewed for the web site. (More recently, she completed our INK Q&A.) Our staff simply knows Susan as one of our favorite writers. Look for more from her on the blog each day this week.
Stuffed... Me, that is; post-Thanksgiving. We just got back from the holiday and I'm sort of surprised the plane was able to get off the ground — the entire passenger load looked a little... how shall I put this?... well-larded. Of course, after four days of non-stop feasting, I have returned to an apartment that is supplied mostly with 1) mustard; 2) Equal; and 3) past-expiration-date Yo-Baby yogurt, so I guess at some point this afternoon I'll be heading to the grocery store. This will constitute Item Number One of my Creative Procrastination Task List for the day (or week or month or year, depending on how creatively I procrastinate). The reason for the CPTL is, of course, that I'm on a deadline. I'm working on a story for the New Yorker about homing pigeons, which I started this summer. Because of interruptions, vacations, reporting snags, and general low productivity on my part, the story has dragged on and on. Right now, with a cottony gray winterish sky hanging over us here in Boston, I'm re-reading notes I wrote in August on a day so blistering hot that my fingers actually sweated onto the notebook pages. I need to get myself back in the pigeon state-of-mind — but I also need to go to the grocery store. And reorganize my sock drawer. And learn to play the cello. Teach the baby to read Chinese. And maybe repaint the entire apartment...
With my assistant, on the pigeon story's trail.
I gave a lecture at the Cleveland Public Library this past Sunday, and during the Q&A I was asked the single question that I am always asked, no matter when and where I give a talk: How do you take notes? I'm fascinated by the persistence of this question. I have literally never, ever given a lecture (and I've given lots and lots of lectures) when the question wasn't raised. Why are people so curious about this? I always feel like I'm disappointing them when I explain that I use a pen (cheap) and paper (reporters' notebook) and write in sloppy homemade shorthand; there's no magic, nothing technical or complicated about it.
Oh, I lied. There is another question I am always asked, every single time I give a lecture: What did you think of the movie Adaptation?
Okay, time to get started on the Creative Procrastination — I mean, my pigeon story. Although I do think the window of opportunity for teaching the baby Chinese may be about to shut, so maybe I should just take care of that, and then start the pigeon story...
Books mentioned in this post
Susan Orlean is the author of My Kind of Place : Travel Stories From a Woman Who's Been Everywhere (05 Edition)