Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter, Pottery and Writing

We went to Butte today, to deliver pots that will be taken to Idaho this weekend and picked up next week to be hauled to Nevada for shows the next few weekends. I’m glad that it’s Delia, in Nevada, and Joyce in Wyoming rather than Ben and me in Montana doing the shows. I’m weary of doing shows and they just don’t pay off so well anymore. I’m quite happy making the pots and sending them out to Joyce, Delia and the galleries.

We were able to drive out because we hired a plow to clear last week’s snow off of our driveway a couple of days ago. After the snow storm, a lovely wind arose, singing all day and night for several days in that sweet, haunting timbre with which only the wind can sing, in tones and lyrics that roused us fully awake at night as it echoed our fears of being snowed in until the end of the world. Which, according to some ancient accounts could be in a couple of weeks; and that wouldn’t have been so bad because we have enough coffee to last that long. But we opted to have the road plowed so Delia could get her pottery and we could get more coffee just in case the world doesn’t end.

Today, while we were gone, the sun shone on the parts of the road that the plow scraped clear and, so, now we have deep mud and slush which made our drive back in, late this afternoon, quite difficult. We’ll drive the car out again tomorrow morning while the ground is frozen; that way we’ll be able to get out for more coffee next month. And, yes, of course for the big Thanksgiving pig-out-feast next week.

On a less festive note, I’m studying a couple of text books on characterization. So, now it’s time for my confession: I have a goal to write a novel over the next two winters and I wanted to brush up on how to create powerful characters. I’ve given myself the two winters because during the summer, when we’re landscaping, I can barely drag myself home with enough energy to fix and eat dinner before dragging my worn and tired body to bed. (The upside of that weariness, of course, is that it burns a lot of my winter fat off, helping me to fulfill another goal.) There is, therefore, no mental energy left in me at the end of the day to write and we leave so early in the morning that I couldn’t get up early enough for time to write and make it through the long work day. Summer’s off for writing, except maybe editing on the weekends some of what I wrote during the winter. I’ll have two winters of about six months each for writing this novel, which is one full year and that year, though broken, started a couple of weeks ago. And with all I’ll want to accomplish in the studio, I’ll need the full year.

I can explain my decision to quit waiting for miracles to change my life for me and start writing this novel now with an example of life we witnessed today when we stopped in Three Forks to have lunch: We walked in and checked out a table on one side of the room, but I was a little cold and opted to take a booth instead chairs knowing there would be less draft in a booth. Next to the table and chairs we first looked at sat an old man that I thought was scowling as we walked past him a second time going toward the booth. I sat down facing the scowling old man and soon realized he wasn’t scowling at all, but had a little difficulty seeing and had to squint a bit. When he picked up his glass to drink or his fork to eat, he had a tremor in his hand. It was never enough to spill his food or his drink, but he did have some trouble getting the straw and the food into his mouth sometimes.

I guessed, by the lines on the old man’s face, he was in his late seventies or early eighties and I felt a little sad for him. Perhaps he’s still glad to be alive and if he is then I’ll be happy for him, too; but perhaps, actually, it isn’t so much that I was sad for him, but, rather, for myself, for my own future. As I’ve written before, my parents are in a nursing home. Mom has Alzheimer’s, so she’s as happy as she could possibly be, not remembering from one moment to the next what she might have to be sad about. Dad has severe dementia, but he’s also in very rough physical shape and, honestly, I don’t know how his body continues on. Mom and dad are roughly the same age as that old man at the restaurant and he is certainly in better shape than my folks are, but when he got up to leave he had a difficult time walking, though – probably out of a stubbornness I know I would have if I were in his shoes – he  didn’t use a cane or a walker. He got into his little pickup and drove away and I was worried for the other drivers on the road, but at the same time I couldn’t fault him for not relinquishing his last bastion of true freedom. Perhaps he lives in Three Forks because he feels safe driving there, because without his little pickup he would be completely dependent on other people to either take him everywhere he needed to go or bring him everything he needed to survive. He would still be in his own home, but his life would be so much like nursing home residents.

Also as I’ve mentioned, Ben and I built and moved into our place over eighteen years ago. Those years have gone by more quickly than I could ever have imagined possible and there’s still so much more I would like to do with our place and with my life. But, and here’s the real issue, when we have lived in our place for another passage of time equivalent to what we have already lived here, Ben and I will nearly be in the same age category that the old man in the restaurant is in now and very likely in a similar state of health.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and have decided to start pushing myself rather than to continue waiting for someone to pull me; or at least, looking back, it seems like I’ve been waiting. In reality, at least in part, a lot of my complacence stems from being so damn happy with my life. And I am happy, but I’m also in a crux; some days I don’t want to change anything: I want to keep everything the way it is now; and some days I want to change everything: there’s so much more out there. Since there are things I still want to do, though, and writing is at the top of the list, I know that if I don’t change anything, then when I sail with the high winds of time into the age of the old man in the restaurant I’ll look back – so long as I still have my mind – and won’t be so damn happy anymore.

And what, really, could be worse than that?

So, if I may be so bold, I want you all to hold me accountable. I will finish that novel, at least a first full draft, by the spring of 2014. Question me, bug me, needle me, but don’t let me be complacent. If I don’t let you know how I’m doing every week, harangue me. Likewise, if you have a goal you want to accomplish, let me know and I’ll pester you as well.

Deal? Okay, deal!

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