I woke up at dawn to cloudy skies and a damp Oklahoma. My wife and I had stayed late at her dad’s house to watch a weather forecaster talked us through possible weather disasters as storms blew northeast across my state. We are safe. I believe I was successful in not waking my wife as I slid out of bed and closed the bedroom door and was soon sitting back on our leather sectional with a mug of coffee in an apartment we will soon be leaving behind for our new house.
I gave my mind time to bounce around aimlessly as I sipped. This is my custom. No phone, no social media, no email, just my meandering thoughts about writing projects, work, music, and days ahead. Now I am sitting in my office listening to a Bread album on my new record player–my new special item…my precious?
I’ve recently become aware that throughout my life, I’ve nearly always had a special object never far from me or my thoughts. I suppose it was a blanket in early childhood, and before the record player I’m listening to now, it was a vintage diner mug I’d bought online after seeing it in several old episodes of Dallas. I don’t know why I do this.
My musical, E-Vatar, has been on hold for a couple of months. A member of the creative team suffered a loss and needs some time, so I’ve started shifting my attention to the writing projects I had put on hold: two novels, a collection of personal essays, and a serial. And perhaps the serial ought to be a novel. Who is reading serials? I greatly desire to focus on one project, but I’m not sure which one.
I’d given up on one of them until last week when I found it lurking in the depths of my Google Drive. It’s a story of a seventy-year-old woman who loses her husband the night of his retirement, drastically changing her plans for the next chapter in her life. I had abandoned it because I lost confidence that anyone would read a book about an older woman written by a middle-aged man, and that even if they would, could I pull it off? So, I read the seven existing chapters for the first time in several years. Writers may not admit it out of humility, but we sometimes catch ourselves by surprise with our own writing. I was deeply moved by this character and her story. I’ve decided to get a second opinion. I sent it to a friend of mine who is a widow in her seventies and a retired English teacher along with two questions: does this feel authentic and should I continue this book?
I haven’t heard back, yet, but I will, and she will likely give me objective feedback. The other three are very different. One is about a journalist sent to his childhood hometown in the South to cover the 150th birthday of the church his father once pastored. It is a mystery. I’ve written a little bit more of it than the book about the widow, but not much. I’ve also developed a complete plot for it–chapter by chapter, something I’ve never done before. This book is in the mode of a Pat Conroy novel to some degree. Then there is A Friend of the Family – read for yourself. I haven’t decided where this is going. It’s a comedy (is it?) about a funeral crasher. It might make a good novel. I finally, a second volume of personal essays after the format of my first, My Wife Says I’m Complicated, entitled Tea and Halibut (and other minor allergies)
It’s not easy to find time and energy to write. I admit I used to do most of my writing at work, but my jobs and responsibilities and work ethnic have outgrown that habit. Still though, I have quite a few novels sketched out and intend to write them. And one day, I’d like to write a real hit.
My cat, Luna, is ready for me to put this laptop down so she can sit on my lap as I sip a second cup, and side A of the record has long-since ended. Until next time…