From: Laura Moncur Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 10:26 AM To: William F. Claire Subject: Anais Nin
Hello. I hope your weekend was relaxing and mildly eventful. Mike and I took a drive up the mountains to see a campground. Our church group is having a group camping near Timpanogos Cave, so we wanted to check it out before Labor Day rolls around. After the dog went into near convulsions at the herd of chipmunks, we decided that he gets to stay at the kennel while we camp. The camping book said flush toilets, but all we saw were chemical toilets. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I don’t have to dig a hole.
I originally found you because of the poem you wrote called, “Thinking of Anais Nin.” I was wondering if you ever knew her. What were you thinking about when you wrote it? My education was completely devoid of any mention of Anais Nin. I don’t know if the Eighties was too soon after her acclaim to get her into our curriculum or if her life was too risqué for the conservative Utah teachers. Either way, I know her only through the quotes that I have gathered.
Hope to hear from you soon,
From: William F. Claire Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 11:59 AM To: Laura Moncur Subject: Re: Anais Nin
Thanks for the camping report. What kind of dog?
Yes.I knew Anais Nin quite well.She was an original advisory editor* of my magazine, Voyages, and I have written about her at some length in a book of people who knew her. While I was much younger, I even knew her before she came such a cult figure.
I wrote the poem while in a meeting in DC during one of the coldest winters in history when I saw an actual gull outside the window…a sea tern even tho’ DC is three hours from the water. People thought I was taking notes at the meeting, which was going on without end. I wanted to create a world away from the reality and impersonality of the meeting. And it all began thinking about Anais.
Thanks for asking.
*She was my most active advisor, never asked for a thing, contributed much, and always with generosity, taste and deference.
From: Laura Moncur Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 12:15 PM To: William F. Claire Subject: RE: Anais Nin
We have a mutt that is a mix between a shepherd and some sort of husky. He’s only 50 pounds or so, though, which makes him substantially smaller than his heritage. I swear he was barking at the chipmunks because he was scared of them. Maybe he just felt outnumbered. Luckily, he likes the kennel. It’s out in the country. Ok, the suburbs. The owners know him by sight and he gets to run around in their large dog area with all the friendly dogs. It’s Doggie Vacation for him. If he hated the kennel, I’d find a different place for him.
The idea of writing while the rest of the world works in mind-numbing boredom is something that I do every day. My job is to answer phones and type letters. When the phones are silent and the letters are typed, they expect me to look busy. Writing is the best way to do it. Of course, I end up feeling guilty writing while I’m at work, even though they’ve given me permission to do it.
I remember reading an introduction by Isaac Asimov that insisted that he had never written his novels during “work” time. I can’t remember where I read that, but it has hung in my mind vividly. I wonder if that will be an issue for me. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I write when I’m at work. Hmmm…
From: William F. Claire Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 8:13 AM To: Laura Moncur Subject: Re: Anais Nin
My basset hound could have handled those chipmunks.
On the writing front, seriously, you do have to block out time that is yours alone to accumulate a serious body of work. But if good thoughts come at work by all means jot them down. The same goes for dreams, whatever. Guilt is like fear, and who said “I’ll show you fear in a handful of dust.”
From: Laura Moncur Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:41 AM To: William F. Claire Subject: Fear, Anger and Guilt
Quotes I can handle:
I will show you fear in a handful of dust. – T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922
Knowing the meaning of the quotes; that’s a more difficult task. The carefully tossed handful of dust can blind an adversary. Maybe that’s why poetry is hard for me. I always want to argue with it.
I’ve always thought of guilt as anger directed at myself. In essence, I guess I’m angry that I don’t reserve time to write during my free time. Even when I do, I’ve found it hard to write at home. I allow myself to get distracted by the most inane things. When I’m at work, I don’t worry about the dishes in the sink or the bathroom tile. I just need to learn how to write at home as diligently as I write at work.
Sid would have been scared of your basset hound, too. Never mind the fact that my dog probably outweighs him by half.
Thanks for listening, Laura