Friday, September 7
Since the nightly rains have swamped my sunset ascents to the shack, I’ve started going up in the morning. Took the machete with me yesterday to attack some weeds that were encroaching on the driveway. I arrived at the top an hour or two past high tide, so the Whale’s Tail was clearly discernible from the surf breaking on it. The Osa Peninsula, a dark, shadowy stretch of land that juts out into the Pacific south of us, was crowned with ominous clouds. It definitely was raining there, but here in Uvita it was sunshine and hummingbirds. At least at the time …
Yesterday was a cleaning day. I finally located a toilet brush and other cleaning supplies, so I put the Treeehouse in order. It was getting a tad grungy. I also did laundry. Those hikes into town produce a lot of sweaty clothes.
I decided to stay on site, spending most of the afternoon reading Darkness Visible, a fictionalized account of the Homestead strike that I recently stumbled across. The author, Trilby Busch, did a nice job, especially in her description of the late 19th Century steelmaking process and of what Homestead looked like back in the day. She did extensive research, and it shows. Busch tells the story from the viewpoint of Welsh immigrants, and while overall the writing is solid, I’m getting impatient. I catch myself skimming large chunks as the characters flirt and bicker. There’s method to her madness since I think she’s really plumbing the class and social distinctions of the time, but I’d love to edit it down to about half its current size. (We get more “dumb hunkies,” but not in her words; we see that prejudice through the eyes of one of the characters discriminating against them. Her portrayal of them is sympathetic, if passing.) Halfway through the book, we’re still months away from the strike itself. I think some of my problems are specific to what I’m trying to get out of it. To be honest, it would make a great TV movie. Lots of little interrelated dramas in the shadow of a big, looming crisis. The characters are generally well-developed and their motivations feel true. We’ll see if it picks up as we get closer to the climax.
After a few hours of reading, I wrested myself from the hammock and made good use of all the veggies I bought at the farmers market Wednesday. Green beans. Asparagus. Rice. And a few cheese tortillas. Perfect in its simplicity. True to form, evening vespers were swamped so I studied Spanish for a while before listening to lessons on writing dialogue in the fiction course I’m working through. That inspired me to crank out Chapter 2 of my book, but I hated it as I wrote it and really had to force myself to see it through. I already was up and tinkering this morning. I’m finding that if I take a day or three after I write something, I often hit a eureka moment when I return to it. Hoping that will be the case here. I think I’ve already substantially upgraded the opening scene.