ASSAY: A JOURNAL OF NONFICTION STUDIES
“More people should ask about work … I rarely hear anything about the work of sitting down at the desk and writing. The actual, physical process of occupying that space and creating. That’s where the sunshine happens. I wish more writers embraced the act, or at least talked about it openly … nothing happens without the sitting.” – Paul Crenshaw
What’s the weather? Can I wear boots? I hate the half-nudity that summer requires, love the anonymous layers of winter.
Houses, plants, clouds. How do people live? Where are they all going – to what work? Can I wear a shirt like that man’s? Why wear heels?
I wonder where these oats came from, what field, what farm, what country.
If the buds come too early, and a frost kills them, does that throw the tree off? Does it think it’s had an extra spring, that it’s a year older than it is? How does it feel to be planted instead of mobile? Does this tree know me? Are we neighbors? I don’t want to see my human neighbors, or for them to see me.
What keeps a spine straight? Sontag said she hates her posture. How much do I want to invest in improving mine? I should reread Against Interpretation.
I love etymologies. How the whole history of a word is there – hidden in plain sight – if you only know how to look. The ancient Greeks are so foreign to me. Their myths have become so familiar but the way they thought and lived I don’t understand at all.
Let me look up that Woolf quote about mirrors …
This is how people wrote for centuries. How differently it makes me think than when I tap the letters.
Maybe I should write something about trees or myths or the mirrored gaze or the fluidity of handwriting, of thought, of light or – there it is – sunshine.
Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her collection Be with Me Always was published by the University of Nebraska Press in March 2019, and her lyric essay chapbook Devotional was published by Red Bird in 2017. Other work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. Currently she is the founding editor of the online literary magazine After the Art. You can read more at www.randonbillingsnoble.com.