My postings here have fallen off. Not a great loss, given my tiny audience, though I appreciate my tiny audience is not in it for the cat pictures. Does it matter? Nothing matters. Everything matters.
I’ve been working on a book. It’s a mountain from the past that still hangs out there, but the climb is any other marathon: the finish only imagined until afterwards. But I’m getting better at it. I’ve written more of it, in a more sophisticated way, than I ever have before.
I’d avoided the book for decades, having judged myself incapable of expressing it with the competence and grace I wanted. Jobless after Thanksgiving 2009 I’d at last started adult work on it, churning out thousands of words of character studies, outlines, treatments: a mountain of work a mountainous book deserved. I didn’t get to writing the manuscript until March 2010, and by then I’d exhausted myself. I got a job and gave up in a different way.
2013 was different. I started fresh, focused on simplicity. My outline was three pages instead of 90. I made a schedule of long-term goals, since I had been drifting so long. I’d have a draft finished before Thanksgiving 2013. I felt, if not excited, buoyed to a new level.
This time a year ago I was drowning in an anxious depression. The job, new in January, nixed my money worries but took all my time and energy, the school performance anxiety I’ve never quite vanquished transferred to the job. I worked evenings, woke up mornings, pounded out doughy, uninspired words that took too long. The opening was hackneyed (how many characters have startled from a dream?). It was March and I was hardly more than a chapter in. I worked harder, taking up the weekends. I spent so much time in front of a keyboard my shoulder still acts up. April had me back to antidepressants (don’t be fooled by the initial mania), and things only went down from there.
2014 is different. I don’t remember when, but after getting things straightened out by fall I finally took a friend’s advice: even just fifteen minutes every day is great progress, if you really take the fifteen minutes. So the first chapter–which I threw out and rewrote, and has morphed and grown in notes and in my head since–is complete for now. The second, a similar mess, the third, better. My parents visit, the holidays, work keeps going. I’m not winning any races, but I’m deep into the seventh chapter, the first in the second act. Thirty, forty-five, sometimes a couple hours a day; with productivity independent of the time spent. Frank Herbert, who wrote the Dune novels, observed that six months later he could see no difference between what he thought at the time of writing was good or bad. I’m trusting Frank and all the others. Nobody has confidence in this, and that’s fine.
2014 is different. I have friends that I maintain. I keep up improv classes and harbor dreams of what that could mean. The book is coming together–slower than I’d like, but a daily stone to the pile. I don’t feel hunkered down in my little house, my only anchors to sanity the cat and voices on the phone. I am not like a friend’s brother, now deceased, rejected from work, rejecting of family, on his last dime and (in my friend’s frank words) with no chicks to bang. I don’t feel thrilled and released and terrified as when I was first divorced. Splashdown is complete and the capsule is still. But because I am still, I can move.
If, since Hawaii, I have been yelling at you, I apologize. It wasn’t my intention, even if that is what I needed. Many things have come together and stuck in the right way, and I suspect the friend who suggested I start this blog knew that would happen. Thanks for that.
I still observe things, still think into the dark. I go for walks and look up with wonder instead of the dread I have been so used to. I do my thirty or forty-five or hundred and twenty minutes, and then that’s the day, and I do something else, or nothing. I’m sleeping okay. The job won’t last forever. I’ll keep you informed.
Don’t push the river. It flows by itself.
– Barry Stevens