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Amber Paulen

An Ending?

28 October 2010


Yesterday I climbed Gianicolo hill. As I passed between the Vatican’s colonnaded arms and briefly skirted the Lungotevere, to ascend, certain lines of the book I wrote rang in my head. I am not sure how I feel about being finished. In fact, I feel rather lost.

It’s inevitable, I suppose; I’ve been trying to write a book for seven years and then it’s written and then what? I can begin journal writing again, I can write more posts here, but these are nothing compared to the long devotion of a single work. And that’s what I miss already, not being able to go into it each day, to manipulate, to caress. “One must go on like the train goes on in the dark.” There I go again, quoting myself.

Yesterday I climbed Gianicolo hill because it is a pivotal place for me. It also features frequently in The Body’s Long Madness. Now I must think about The Body’s Long Madness so that when people ask me what it is about, I don’t gape at them curiously like a dumb idiot. Or, I know what it’s about, for me, but I want readers to decide for themselves. Instead, I must answer the question: what happens?

The book is anachronistic and the effect is circular. I did not want traditional beginning and ending because one of the main ideas I explored is continuity. The idea of starts and finishes, of chapters, in life, is false. We carry everything over. And if one tries to live by such boundaries, one soon discovers how false they are.

People try to convince me that I am finished writing my book. I know I am not. It will taper out one day, for I’m no longer going into it and nurturing it. Now I’ve got to work with it from the outside. I’ve got to fortify myself and it against whatever may come; I’ve got to summarize it.

Up on Gianicolo hill the air was open with crisp freshness and the panorama of Roman roofs spread unhindered by haze until the peaked mountains. Every time I have stood up on that hill I have felt the world breeze through me like some kind of divine trembling. I became maudlin. To grasp at these delicate sensations is futile. Their passing is part of their pleasure.

If you’re curious, I’ve sent two manuscripts to two contests so far. Both in the States, which I find ironic: my story of leaving and of that country’s disrepute, will be judged there!



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