In addition to posting an essay every Wednesday on Living in Place, I have two works in progress.
Ellen (a novel)
Ellen Wasserman was twenty-nine years old and midway through the first draft of her dissertation when she realized that she had the same initials as Emma Woodhouse, and perhaps other similar and unflattering characteristics as well.
So begins Ellen, the story of Ellen Wasserman, who is writing a dissertation about how Jane Austen uses letters within her novels to teach her audience how to read them. Ellen, in fact, reads nineteenth century British fiction for instructions on how to say no to the wrong men while searching for the right one to come along.
Learning to Hunt (a memoir)
As a woman past sixty, I’m no longer tugged by the moon; now, I’m in tune with the sun. From January to June, I gather strength and ideas that reach their fullness in the fall. Between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, my energy wanes; I turn inward until daylight returns. This annual rhythm is slower than the lunar tide that once ruled me. This solar rhythm allows me a deeper experience of seasons and a longer view, both backwards into the lived past, and forward, toward death.
Being unmoored from the tides of fertility is profound. After years of cycles that buffeted my body with tears and desire, I’m now above tree line, my mind clear. It’s from this vantage point that I see how vast nature, how insignificant I. Where I once depended on human history to navigate the forested landscape, seeing only abandoned foundations, stonewalls, and logging roads along the blazed trail, now I want to see beyond how humans inhabit the landscape, into the trees. It’s as if the centrifugal force of the earth’s rotation is forcing me out of the set track, off the blazed trail, away from the civilized use of the outdoors; I’m spinning into a new orbit: I’m learning to hunt.