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Hey there!
Let’s talk about our days…
Since I wrote to you last month, I’ve been inside four wonderful bookstores for tour events. Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a non-profit bookstore, and their sales help fund their writing programming and literacy outreach. Arcadia Books in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sends out a newsletter written by Nancy the manager and James the owner, and they write about books the way I like to read about books. The Book Cellar in Chicago, Illinois, has a subscription program for all ages, which makes a great birthday or baby gift or any other kind of gift. Carmichael’s Bookstore, owned by cousins in Louisville, Kentucky, has an awesome event room that includes a mural wall. Find me on social media to see photos. And if you don’t have a favorite independent bookstore, think about adopting one of these. It’s super easy to open an account and order your favorite books.
 
Visiting each of the four children meant stops in North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas. I was also in California and Massachusetts to visit two friends. And I was home in Georgia, for eight days, counting today.

Eleven different states in the last five weeks—which doesn't make this 50-state book tour seem so crazy. It’s ridiculous how much I love days that include travel. I love being in motion, moving from here to there. However. I can no longer drive eight hours in one day without consequence. So today I’m sitting at my desk with a heating pad on my low back and a timer set for thirty minutes so I don’t sit for too long at a time…
 
I love change. I know this about myself. So I didn't plan any events for September. I’ll be here in Columbus for a week, and then I'll spend the rest of the month in Provincetown where I plan to watch the tide go out and come in again. I also hope to have days that include less junk food and more fish.
Eric Nguyen’s debut novel, Things We Lost to the Water, which won the Crook’s Corner Book Prize for the best debut novel set in the American South, is the story of a Vietnamese mother and her two sons, who flee Saigon after the war and land in New Orleans. It drew me in from its first words.
 
New Orleans is at war. The long howl in the sky; what else can it mean?
 
The novel opens in scene, in Hương’s head. She’s twenty-six, and she’s been in New Orleans for a year. We learn on the next page that the loud noise is a hurricane alarm.
 
Things We Lost to the Water spans twenty-seven years—from 1978 until August of 2005. The writing is beautiful, and the story, compelling. I loved it. And I agree with Bryan Washington in his New York Times review, “Nguyen’s narrative strikes a very elusive balance: vast in scale and ambition, while luscious and inviting–enchanting, really–in its intimacy.”
 
To read more about Eric and his writing, click over to Catching Days. And now for a sneak peek into Eric’s day, spent at home in Washington, DC.
 
Brewed tea in hand, I come to my desk for a three- or four-hour writing session. I can write 1,000 words on a good day; on a bad one, maybe 100. Writing is a process, I remind myself.
 
Today, I am somehow deleting many words, moving scenes around, but there’s s a net gain in words. How did that happen? I keep track of my word count in an Excel file, a way to feign control over this creative process. Besides my caffeinated beverage, I keep a notepad of words on my desk. They’re words I like, and I imagine incorporating them somehow. Today, the word is “squelch.” Close by, a copy of Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style.
 
Nearing eight thirty or nine, I finally have breakfast, some kind of oat bar because who likes to cook in the morning? (No one, that’s the answer).  [read more]
Welcome to all the new readers who signed up at recent events—it's nice to be able to continue the conversation here.

Do you still associate this time of year with going back to school? Do you crave a new backpack or new clothes? If you want to tell someone what you did for summer vacation, write me! And don't forget, September 1 is almost as good as January 1 for fresh starts. 

Out your window, what’s happening? Out mine, the wind is picking up. We might be in for an evening storm. For me, these last days of August are the best days because the weather is changing and cooler days are ahead. 

With this letter, I wish for you some sort of change—if you're sitting, stand!
This is an email from me to you so write me back. Let me know how you’re spending your days. And you can find past emails here.

Happy last days of August and thanks for reading.
 
Peace out,
--cynthia

 
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Issue #39 August 2022
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