Finished editing and revising The Constant. Final results: 391 pages, 106,291 words. Speculative science fiction mash up. I’ve worked on it throughout the coronavirus pandemic, beginning it around the time in March of 2020 when wearing masks, social distancing, isolation, and watching the daily case numbers became the new norms of the age. I’d been forced into a change of my writing practices. I liked walking to get into the writing rhythm, writing in my head as I did, then settling into a coffee shop, comforted and buffeted by the business activities around me, lowering my head and writing for a few hours. That was all forced aside under COVID-19 rules. Staying at home, shifting into the writing rhythm without the associated rituals was an exhausting, frustrating shift.
Satisfying feeling to finish the novel. I often think of James Caan as author Paul Sheldon in the movie version of the Stephen King version, Misery, when I finish a novel. He had a ritual for when he finished his. He writes ‘The End’ on the final page in pencil. Stacks and tidies the manuscript. Puts it into an attaché. Pours a glass of champagne. Regards a cigarette. Puts it in his mouth, lights the match and then the cigarette. Takes a drag. We learn later, when he’s under Annie Wilke’s care (the nurse and fan played by Kathy Bates) that this was his ritual created when he finished his first successful novel. It’s an engaging film. Was released in 1990. Wow, thirty-two years ago. You should watch it if you haven’t seen it. Also a good book to read. Misery, by Stephen King.
I don’t have any rituals. As others noted after I posted about wrestling with a chapter called Thelma & Louise, it feels good to finish a challenging task. Writing a novel is a challenging task. Finishing it is rewarding. Too, I feel the loss of being done, something felt when I changed duty stations in the military or advanced from one grade to another in school as a child. You’ve done something, and you’re moving forward; yet, to do that, some things must be left behind. What is left behind is part of my fabric of daily activities and focus. Finishing the writing of a novel is about change that I’ve forced on myself.
It’s a change I accept. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. The process and finishing are a comforting buffer against the war videos emerging coming out of Europe as Russia attacks Ukraine.
The dream began with me as a young man again — a common element in my recent bout of dreams — with friends and family members. My wife wasn’t present in the dream, though.
With friends and family, a large house was being emptied and cleaned. In fact, we’d finished doing that and were now walking through on a final inspection. Everything was immaculate. Thick, China blue carpeting was underfoot. White, unmarked paint on walls. Windows which were clear and clean. Bright sunshine lighting landscaping outside them. I went from room to room, looking in, satisfied, speaking to a female friend accompanying me, explaining to her that I’m moving.
But then, I entered a room where my little sisters were supposed to have cleaned. Something in their giggling demeanors provoked suspicions about what they’d done so I questioned them. As I did, I inspected more closely and found that they’d not cleared away a large cache of papers, as they should have done, but had tried hiding it under a remaining piece of furniture.
I berated them about taking shortcuts and deceiving me. They were abashed and apologetic. Taking the large pile of papers to hand, we began discussing how to get rid of them when I found that I could breathe on them and set them aflame.
The discovery delighted me. More impressive, only the paper burned. Amazed and astonished by this, I walked around showing off this new skill. Then I somehow learned that I could even burn paper with my breath while underwater. That seemed ridiculous because, how can I breathe and set the paper on fire and hold my breath while underwater? It all seemed incompatible. I learned that I wasn’t underwater but under the surface of reality. Well, how cool was that? Refining my knowledge, I clarified that under reality was very like being underwater and that I could ignite the paper with my breath underwater because I didn’t need to hold my breath. As I went through this process, I discovered that I could stay underwater indefinitely and that being underwater was no different from being in the air on the surface. I moved the same, weighed the same, etc.
After showing everyone how I could go below the surface, I tried teaching them how to do this as well. None of them could. But during my efforts, I found that I could also fly. I was like, wow, I can go through the air, flying, like a fish goes through the water while swimming.
After testing and demonstrating this new skill, realizing that I could fly as far and high as I wanted, I wondered what had changed that allowed me to suddenly gain these new powers?
Clouds and suns are clashing on this Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 morning. Winds are relatively calm, most snow have slipped into being as small residual mounds hazed brown and black, and the temperature is up to 29 degrees F. Like yesterday, we expect a high of 44 in our valley. Sunset will be at 5:55 PM, eleven hours and one minute after sunrise. In news, Russia has attacked Ukraine, as expected. Because, yeah, the world always needs another war, and more refugees. Yes, that was snark. Russia’s intentions had been transparent for some time. Also as expected, Trump praised the aggressor and told some lies in relation to the event. sigh
Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble inhabit the morning mental music stream. I have three younger sisters. I regularly check on them on Facebook. All are mothers, two are grandmothers, two are tremendously fit, and two are very successful. All are a treasure to me. Anyway, my Facebook scanning prompted my neurons to fire up “Look at Little Sister” from 1985. The original was from the Soul to Soul album. I listened to it frequently; my wife listened to it more. Weirdly, she didn’t start doing that until after his passing from a helicopter crash in 1990. I enjoy this live version from Austin City Limits and the guitar swap toward the song’s end due to a broken string.
Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax and boosters when ye can. Here’s the tune. I need to step into the kitchen to help a cup of coffee with finding its destiny. Cheers