Marvelous Marly is one of those people who almost as soon as you meet her (and i've only ever known her through this ether world) touches you with magic and makes you believe again.
Does that sound too sappy? Well, too bad. Because it's true.
Marly is a writer. She is daughter, a poet, a mother, a novelist, a wife, a teacher, and friend. i came across her blog, "The Palace at 2 a.m." several years ago and was instantly drawn in by her voice: "Directions to the Palace: Seek out Giacometti’s “The Palace at 4 a.m.” Go back precisely two hours. See towers and curtain walls of matchsticks, marble, marbles, light, cloud at stasis. Walk in. The beggar queen is dreaming on her throne of words… Welcome. You have arrived at the web home of MARLY YOUMANS, maker of novels, poetry collections, and fantasies for children."
Marly has been a good friend and one of the most loyal visitors to the garden encouraging me, after Jon's passing to keep digging and sharing. Even when she's coping with (indoor) floods tree limbs crashing on cars, sick children a traveling husband, and taxes her casual comments and emails trail a whisper of poetry in them. She can't help it. i'm sure that under the microscope Marly's molecules actually spell out splendorous words that make us ache with pleasure even as they touch tender truths at the heart of the matter.
Luckily for us we can hold Marly's words in our hands a bit of her essence and i'm very eager to read her latest novel which will be released on March 30th.
i have no doubt, faithful garden visitors that you will want to read it too. Because i know you will enjoy Marly as much as i do and that you, too, will be moved by her words the way she observes, listens, and tells stories.
It's true. You will read this newest novel and then hurry to procure her other works and then thank me profusely for introducing you to Marly and the marvelous gifts she has created for us. Yes, they cost money but very few other purchasables will ever bring as much light into your life.
Here is the publisher's description of her latest novel: After a death at the White Camellia Orphanage, young Pip Tatnall leaves Lexsy, Georgia to become a road kid, riding the rails east, west, and north. A bright, unusual boy who is disillusioned at a young age, Pip believes that he sees guilt shining in the faces of men wherever he goes. On his picaresque journey, he sweeps through society, revealing the highest and lowest in human nature and only slowly coming to self-understanding. He searches the points of the compass for what will help, groping for a place where he can feel content, certain that he has no place where he belongs and that he rides the rails through a great darkness. His difficult path to collect enough radiance to light his way home is the road of a boy struggling to come to terms with the cruel but sometimes lovely world of Depression-era America.
Just look at what other writers are saying about the book:
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage tells of a young boy's travels through the black heart of Depression America and his search for light both metaphorical and real. Writing with a controlled lyrical passion, Marly Youmans has crafted the finest, and the truest period novel I've read in years. --Lucius Shepard In A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Marly Youmans gives us a beautifully written and exceptionally satisfying novel. The book reads as if Youmans took the best parts of The Grapes of Wrath, On the Road, The Reivers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and crafted from them a tale both magical and fine. Her rich language and lovely turns of phrase invite the reader to linger. Ironically, there is at the same time a subtle pressure throughout the novel to turn the page, because Youmans has achieved that rarest of all accomplishments: she has created a flawed hero about which we care. A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is one of the best books I have read. --Raymond L. Atkins
So here's the thing i know some of you are asking just like i was. As i said before Marly is a mother, a wife, (i know most of you know what those two roles entail) a friend to many she blogs, she is active in her church she drives kids to and from college, wrestling matches and who knows what else... and she is a poet and novelist. When she recently posted pictures of her wonderful writing room i could not help but ask her how and when she manages to find time to spend there:
Zephyr: Seeing photos of your writing room on your blog...do you "go to work", at specific times?
Marly: No, not really. I tend to carry my laptop all over during the day when nobody else is home, though I often work in my writing room, particularly when everybody is home. My times are not specific. Today, for example, I have a lot of tax-gathering to do. With three children and a husband who is often on call, I frequently have to give up writing time. I’ve promised to read some poetry by my eldest son today, and I have other duties that don’t have anything to do with writing that must be done. So my time is unpredictable. I’m often dreaming about a piece while I do house-drudgery.
For a while now I have been working only on poetry, and that simply doesn’t need the same kind of hours. I do need dream time and reading time, but I don’t need the same extent of time as with a novel. I probably won’t begin another novel for a while because I have to travel for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage and also need to put in some marketing time, working with online publicity and so on. I’m also still doing some work to support The Throne of Psyche, my 2011 poetry collection.
When I write a novel, I tend to log in a crazy number of hours and work during the day and then late at night. One of my books was written entirely in the middle of the night after children were in bed and housework abandoned. That was hard, writing much of the night and rising around 6:45 with three children. The morning alarm felt like electrocution! Now my children are older, but I still have to get up early and roust no. 3.
I’ve never worried too much about “my hours.” If you grow militant and possessive about such things, it just leads to conflict, and conflict is not the least bit helpful. Children don’t need a writer; they need a mother. A husband wants a wife. That’s just how it is. I’ve been lucky to have a strong (so people say) ability to concentrate. I can blot out the world and write in the midst of chaos when I need to do so. Now that two of my children are in college, there’s less need for writing in the middle of play and noise and requests.
It's all very simple and practical. Life (that comes down to family, most of the time) comes before art because without life there is no art. Write whenever you can. Don't be too fussy about the house.
Zephyr: I know you spend a lot of time ferrying...and sitting at wrestling matches, etc. Do you carry a notebook with you, or is your ability to concentrate also translate to an ability to remember a thought or line that may come to you when you are out and about and away from your laptop?
Marly: Often I have a little pad with me in my bag, but I seldom use one. When a poem comes on, it tends to race on through me until it reaches a close, so that I have a whole draft, rather than one interesting phrase, say. But occasionally I do jot down thoughts for a novel I’m working on.
I have written poems in some odd places, but never in a wrestling meet. Write a poem there and you might miss your child’s next match, and that won’t do after a long drive to find some gym in the middle of boondockery! But the experience of being with dozens of young competitors can be inspiring; it’s always lovely to see children you know growing up and striving to perform and developing a family feeling about a team. One of my poems forthcoming at Mezzo Cammin comes from watching a hurdler at a track meet.
No, I’m not great at remembering lines or ideas that come to me when I’m out, but I don’t worry. I believe in not being too tidy and scrupulous about what flies into my head—if I lose a few lines, that’s okay. If it’s pressing, they’ll probably emerge again in some form or other when I have the chance to sit down. In fact, the wish for something lost that way often gives rise to something new, perhaps quite different from the original phrase or idea.
To always be jotting notes and scribbling my every precious thought seems both a little too academic and a little too self-loving for me. I prefer the joy of spontaneity when I first draft something. Let the careful side wait for revision to come along.
Louis, the chief gardener at Greenwood (otherwise known as the Director of Horticulture) will be leading a workshop where he will help folks plant an "early spring bulb bowl" and this little sweetie is just one of the bulbs that jumped the gun in all that warm winter weather we've experienced. So he popped it into one of the teeny tiny terracotta potlets that he uses for propagating minute things and set it on the potting shed window sill.\ Because we all end up there several times a day.
Until recently i have found hellebores difficult flowers to love.
i mean, there is a lot to recommend them: they appear (in this neck of the woods) in late winter or very early spring about the same time snowdrops and crocus open and they are much larger flowers but you have to bend waaay over and carefully lift the downward facing flowers or lie on your belly to get a good look at their very interesting if forlorn faces. They just seem so...sad. When snow drops are courting fairies and crocus cups opening wide to the sky hellebores just hang about finding no reason to look up.
i suppose that's it: i have never felt charmed by such a gloomy, hang-dog posture.
Breeders have finally succeeded in creating cultivars that look skyward and i do find this a much more appealing presence