First Times

The next few days are going to involve self in a bunch of first times.

For instance, she’s never been to Denver before — only during stopovers. Now she is staying two nights, for the AWP Writers Conference.

She’s also never taken Frontier Airlines before. She bought her ticket from them because they were cheap. Then, they moved her flights several times, so that now she’s having to leave Denver at 9 pm, and get into San Jose at 11 pm. Self called yesterday to ask if she could take an earlier flight on Saturday, and the agent told her there were none. On the entire day of Saturday, April 10, there is only one flight to the San Francisco Bay Area, and that is the one self is on, which leaves at 9 pm. Now the thought that is uppermost in self’s mind is: she’d better not miss that flight!

She has never met Chris Abani before, or George Saunders, but she will at least get to know what these two look like, tomorrow.

She has never, ever been in a city where she knew no one who lives there. Not one living soul. It’s a strange feeling.

Perhaps because Denver has been on her mind, she decided to submit a story to The Denver Quarterly. It came back yesterday: form rejection.

Just 15 minutes ago, self finished reading a 700-page novel by Michael Cox, her first long novel since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which was 800 pages). It’s also the first novel she’s read by an author who has recently died: he died five years after The Meaning of Night came out (Self gives it five stars, by the way). It made him a rich man, but then he got cancer.

Oh, wait, she did read W. G. Sebald, not after his first translated book came out (The Emigrants), but after his second (The Rings of Saturn?), when he was already dead. Dead in a motorcycle accident, and only in his fifties.

Now self is going to get started on Coetzee’s Slow Man. It’s only her third book by Coetzee. She reads him oh, about once every 10 years. The first Coetzee she read was shattering: Life and Times of Michael K. Then she read an autobiography. And now there’s this.

This is the first time, also, when self really wishes she didn’t have to travel because she’s on a roll right now with her writing. She’s never written so much. Conversely, she’s never been so exhausted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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