I'm so easily derailed.
When I went to bed last night the plan was to get up relatively early and go for a run before the day heated up (both temperature-wise and work-wise), then get down to business and maybe take a short hike in the late afternoon. When I got up (relatively early; at least I managed that much!) it was drizzling, so I nixed the run and made coffee. Checking the online news and weather for here and for home (which is 100 miles northwest of here), I saw a fairly good chance of severe storms, and some pretty impressive stuff rolling over the Illinois border. I worry so about my house and especially my cats when I'm not home; my roof already needs replacing, I have a big old silver maple in my back yard that's bound to drop a ginormous branch someday, and one of my cats is terrified of loud noises (thunder most assuredly included). I watched the radar as storms rolled through Bloomington, and held my breath as the tornado warning was announced and eventually cancelled. (There was a tornado on the ground about 10 miles south of my house, as it turns out.) I emailed back and forth with a friend who's almost as tornado-phobic as I am (for those who don't know -- when I was 5 years old a huge tornado whomped up half of the city I lived in and gave my house what-fer [um, apparently hanging out in southern Indianatucky has afflicted my vocabulary] and I've been pretty nervous about storms ever since) and she assured me that Bloomington was, in general, still standing.
Before all of this commenced I had managed to make myself sit down at the desk and shuffle through poems for a while, picking out a half-dozen from the stack that for sure belonged in the first section of the manuscript. (Last night I spent some time reading through everything and made some notes about recurrent themes, images, motifs; that was useful work and helped me see some connections I hadn't really made before. A decent start. What I have is really a hodgepodge of about ten years' work. The second book, if there ever is a second book, will probably be easier.)
Then the storms roared through here: some thunder, a pretty stiff wind, and about as much rain as I've ever seen barrelling out of the sky all at once. Fog rose out of the woods and over the river and the mighty Ohio was entirely obscured. I watched the Weather Channel until rain knocked out the satellite signal, then tuned back and forth on the radio looking for a station that would give me more weather updates than whiny country music. I kept cruising for updates on the Bloomington situation as the second line of storms raced through there and nervously pacing. (Seriously, I really do not like possibly-tornadic storms, and by this time they'd put out a tornado watch that included me.) When it cleared somewhat I opened the windows again (if I'm gonna be in the woods I want some fresh air, dammit!) and thought I'd take a little nap on the couch to get myself recombobulated. Before long, the tornado sirens started going off. Sigh. Turns out it was just a "severe thunderstorm warning but there's also a tornado watch so we'll blow the sirens just in case because these storms can drop tornadoes with no warning" situation, and all we got was more thunder, wind, and rain. Rain waterfalling off the roof of the inn. Rain making a greeny muck of the woods. Rain ... you want rain, we got it and then some.
Well. Eventually I was able to get back to work, and as of right now I've got a draft of the first section (of 3 or possibly 4). Hooray! It's kludgey and will certainly evolve as I continue to work, but at least it's a structure to start from. Last night I listened to the Born to Run album, paying special attention to structure and sequencing; I think that album is an absolute masterpiece in that sense (and in many other senses). "Thunder Road" issues the invitation, then "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" lays out the platform that everything else evolves from. "Night" promises that the momentum of this thing is going to be relentless. And so on.
Dinner break now. Thanks to having a microwave and mini-fridge and a certain amount of foresight, I had a very lovely dinner of mesquite-grilled tuna fillet (the kind that comes in a pouch and you just nuke it for 45 seconds or so), roasted potatoes (from the Bloomingfoods deli), and green beans (from one of those "throw the bag in the microwave and steam the things" bags). There is a restaurant here, and on the first night I succumbed to the lure of the fried chicken dinner special (half a chicken, green beans, tossed salad, rolls & butter, mashed potatoes & gravy) -- the Indiana state park inns all make a mean fried chicken -- but my heart will be much happier if I don't do that every night, you know? After I watch a bit of news, I think I'll take a short walk and look at the river for a while, maybe sit outside (if I can find a dry spot) or in the lounge overlooking the river & read some other people's poems for a while ... then back to it.
It's amazing how quickly these days are flying by.
#1 thing I'm glad I brought (besides the laptop and, of course, my poems): really good coffee.
#1 thing I miss: the cats, of course; but after that, a stapler. Shuffling through piles of poems would have been a whole lot easier if I could staple the multiple-page ones together. Doh!!