For more about the 3 Quotes, 3 Days challenge, see Day 1.
When I came to Martha’s Vineyard in 1985, part of me thought I was taking a year off to work on a novel. I never finished that novel, but it changed the course of my life. Its working title was Coming Around. This was going to be its epigraph:
To go again where you have gone: Increase. To go backwards: Danger. Better to come round.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home
When I started Coming Around, I was living in Washington, D.C., and beginning to find my way as a writer, encouraged at every step by the feminist women in print movement swirling around me. I reviewed occasionally for the local gay paper and for off our backs. I was the book buyer for Lammas, D.C.’s feminist bookstore — talk about dream jobs, right? Twice a year, usually in mid-spring and late summer, I’d run back to my home state, Massachusetts, and spend some time recharging at my father’s camp on Tisbury Great Pond. I thought of myself as a city girl.
This character, Jamie, had been slipping in and out of my head for several years. We had a few things in common, Jamie and I, not least a family connection to Martha’s Vineyard and a horsey upbringing. She was a far more accomplished horsewoman than I, but she too had left the horse world behind. As I recall, she was now the art director for an independent or maybe university press in western Massachusetts.
Then her aunt Laura — not a blood aunt but a close family friend — called her out of the blue and asked her to come manage her small horse farm on Martha’s Vineyard. Jamie immediately throws her previously placid life into turmoil by saying yes.
She put the idea of moving to Martha’s Vineyard into my head. While walking on South Beach in early September 1984, I picked up a bit of wampum and put it in an amulet bag a friend had crocheted for me. That sealed my fate, though it was a few months before I knew it.
I arrived on Martha’s Vineyard on changeover weekend 1985 — for a year, mind you.
I wrote a lot that year, but it wasn’t on Coming Around. I continued to write essays and reviews for the feminist and gay press. I worked on a lengthy memoir trying to make sense of my life. What I wrote about Martha’s Vineyard was mostly poetry, and in traditional forms. The poems were like snapshots, my attempt to take in the place in which I found myself. By 1988 I was working part-time for and contributing regularly to the Martha’s Vineyard Times.
I’d been here almost a decade before I began to think that I might know enough to write a novel set on Martha’s Vineyard. For sure I didn’t know enough when I got here.
Throughout my D.C. years my horsegirl youth was locked firmly in the past, though, true, I considered my blue Peugeot bicycle my “urban horse” and I still have a D.C. NOW T-shirt that says “Urban Cowdyke” on it. Jamie might have come to the Vineyard to manage a horse farm, but not me. Then in the early 1990s a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers who, as it turned out, had an extra horse who needed occasional exercise.
So once again I came around to where I had gone. I don’t think I’ve gone backwards, but I’m not entirely sure. Le Guin’s words have never been far from my mind, and that’s why they’re quote #2 in my 3 Quotes, 3 Days challenge. Maybe someday I’ll get to use them for an epigraph.