Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Sunday, 15 July 2001

There just about isn't anything that isn't better if you've had enough sleep. Things that are bad (like missing people that you've spent six weeks getting to know) aren't as bad. And things that are good (like visiting family that you've scarcely seen in six weeks) are even better.

I was pretty tired last night. I found myself nodding off around 8:00. I managed to stay up until about 8:20, then just gave up and went to bed. I slept until 6:00 this morning--call it nine and a half hours of sleep. It was wonderful.

I got up an hour or so before anyone else. I sat at one of the big windows and watched the forest begin to light up. It got lighter from the top down, as if someone had poured liquid sunlight on the tops of the trees. They turned a bright yellow-green while the leaves closer to the ground remained a thousand shades of deep, rich green. But the light worked its way down. None of the forest is really dark any more, although even now only the treetops are bathed in sunlight.

As soon as it started getting light, I could see the hummingbirds at the feeder. I couldn't hear them, but I know the sound of hummingbirds--silent, unless they want to make a noise, then a threatening, moving hum like a light saber being raised in challenge. The female hummingbirds chase one another away from the feeder. The males belong to a different dominance hierarchy, and are not intimidated by the females. This early in the morning they all seem to be focused on eating. Later in the day, I recall, they seem to devote more of their time and energy to chasing one another than the do to eating. That may be because the feeder provides so much food, all in one place. Maybe if there a dozen trumpet-flower bushes, each with a hundred blossoms, there might be less time for fighting and less to fight over.

This segment of the entry is being written on the train. I've just left Kalamazoo. In fact, the train is creeping along through old downtown Kalamazoo, just beginning to pick up speed as it skirts along the edge of the Kalamazoo College and the cuts through a corner of the campus of Western Michigan University.

I felt like doing some writing. I found my mind to be plot-free, so I decided to work on a poem. (Mary Turzillo would be pleased. One of the things she said poem writing was good for was making use of gaps of time where you couldn't fit in significant work on a story.) After saying that I'd never write a sestina, though, that's what I ended up working on. I decided to write a sestina on artificial intelligence. (I'm continuing a theme of writing sestinas on science fictional elements that begin with the letters AI. If you can think of any good ones besides artificial intelligence and alien invasion, send me some email.)

I got about half of it written then got drowsy. Then I put the computer away and took a nap.

I ran into Ryan in Chicago. I had known that we were probably on the same train--he had left East Lansing on Sunday, taking a bus to Battle Creek and catching the train there. I didn't run into him on the train, though. They put everyone who got on in Kalamazoo in a particular car.

We had lunch together in the food court in Union Station, then talked until time for his train to leave. It was nice to squeeze in one more brief moment of Clarion.

I'm only about fifteen minutes from Champaign now. I don't expect I'll get this entry posted tonight--better things to do.


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