So how does one, exactly, convey a week’s worth of amazement in a single blog entry?
The experience in Provincetown was wonderful. I ate good food, drank good drinks, made some new friends, and wrote some amazing poems (I hope I still like them when I look at them again this weekend). But that seems a little too simplistic.
The fine folks at the Norman Mailer Colony put me up in an adorable condo, which consisted of a single bedroom, a sizeable bathroom, and a living area that included a kitchenette. It was small, but lovely, and there was a terrific little patio surrounded by rose bushes which served my writing needs. Each morning, I took a short walk (or bike ride) over to the Mailer House, which was astoundingly beautiful and yet somehow horribly decorated (there’s a story there, having something to do with Mrs. Mailer really liking the wallpaper in one of Mailer’s movies). We workshopped in a large room on the first floor of the home, with a magnificent view of the bay and a sun deck just off the back of the house.
We started Day 1 with a tour of the Mailer House, ending up in Norman’s study, where he spent 10 hours a day. It was cramped and hot and dusty and wonderful. There were books everywhere, piles of manila folders filled with research (the folder on Mein Kampf was quite possibly longer than Mein Kampf itself). The studio remains exactly as Mailer left it, with notes to himself and his assistant, a fax cover here, a pile of books there, and Mailer’s napping cot just to the right of his writing desk. Yes, he believed in napping.
Each day from 10 in the morning until about noon, the six of us gathered at the workshop table on the first floor and talked. We shared poems, yes, but mostly we talked – and Dean talked. Dean, who is smart and funny and relaxed and generous. He knows something about everything, and he was just so damn interesting.
After workshop, I usually disappeared back to my condo (after lunch with Sacha) for some quality writing and napping time. I watched a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Office, but I also wrote 15 poems. We ate dinner out a few nights, drank at The Old Colony and The Pig, and collectively consumed 300 oysters.
There are too many good things that happened. I can’t count them all. Somehow I want to keep them private, save them for myself. My favorite non-workshop moment of the week: walking out onto the patio on Friday morning to find a small nest of spiders had burst open, teeming with babies, among the rose bushes. It was a beautiful, amazing sight.