I’m already freaked out about publishing a book by next spring in order to graduate. I’m starting to get more heart-fluttery (in both the good and bad ways) about creeping up on the 4-month mark to the wedding. I haven’t been writing much in any format. It’s a weird, transition-y time.

The good news is I’ve got lots of help in planning, and the best news for my writing soul is that I’m doing an independent study this summer about slowing the heck down. Ekphrasis, as I think I’ve explained before, is art inspired by art (poems from paintings, paintings from music, recipes from novels, etc.). I think it’s awesome. When I was preparing the study, I made up a long list of things I could do in the sphere of ekphrasis that would be challenging and interesting and tangibly rewarding: read so many academic articles and so many books, visit museums so many times, write this many stories at an average of so many words each.

The professor diplomatically told me she loved the ideas I was coming up with, but pointed out that what might be harder and even more rewarding for me, albeit in a less obvious-to-outsiders way, is to spend the summer learning to look. Develop a relationship with a painting instead of approaching it intending to wring out a story. Learn to see what’s not on the canvas. Accept the idea that it would be just fine to spend the summer on one artist, or one painting, if I found something that really spoke to me.

I’m trying. I saw Hashiguchi Goyo’s Beautiful Women at the Walters last week. I chose a painting to focus on, tried to pay attention to the details, wrote a little, tried to avoid the easy angle, wrote a little more. I’m not sure I’m doing it right yet. I’m worried I’m still trying to force story out. But I’m going back again on Sunday, and maybe I’ll look at something else, or maybe I’ll look at the exact same piece as before and see if I see something new, or if it’s closed itself off to me and I have to start from scratch.

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