The major move continues. Yesterday, we loaded up my brother-in-law’s truck with storage items and filled a rented 10′ x 15′ space with a lot of things I identify with and that defined who I’ve been. I have placed more precious things—swords, bagpipes, special collections—in storage with kind friends and relatives. I am going to go “live” in an 11′ x 11′ bedroom with about a third of my library crammed into seven bookcases lining the walls. I jokingly refer to it as “The Monk’s Cell” but think of it more as a “Hospital” or “Chrysalis” where I will convalesce and treat my divorce wounds.
As mentioned in the post before this one, I plan to participate in this year’s NaNo as both emotional comfort food and as a break-from-the-sadness activity. Directing my focus on such an engrossing mental exercise and meeting interesting people with a common passion will be both positive and healing. I look forward to finally drafting this particular manuscript, testing its “seaworthiness” and trim, deciding if it is the vessel with which to attempt circumnavigating the publication globe.
I am a bit nervous too. To put it bluntly, the NaNoWriMo is a young person’s game. Though older writers participate, and are encouraged to do so, it cannot be denied that the overwhelming demographic is between the ages of 13 and 30. As a high school teacher, I’m comfortable with that crowd; they are as familiar to me as 27 years of classes and parent-teacher conferences can make them, but I’m not here as a teacher. I’m a writer, and in particular, a writer seeking social contact with other writers, otherwise I would simply write my manuscript in private.
Rejection warps the perspective and patinas the world in wary, almost paranoid, colors. If I’m not careful, that warped perspective can paint the NaNo landscape as hostile, catering only to the future wherein the young majority, creeped out on stranger-danger, keep the old at a distance…particularly old men like me. I know this is spurious, nonetheless, I’ll need to keep a tight rein on my heart, constantly questioning the validity of my feelings, and reminding myself that I perceive the world though the lens of recent experience.
This is also true concerning my perception of time. It is very hard not to be resentful at how much of this commodity the younger set has. It truly is a resource more precious than diamonds. I am envious that they have the luxury to explore and develop their writing, growing in both confidence and skill with each experience. Had I gone beyond my adolescent and clumsy Conan pastiches, who knows where I might be today? True, there was no NaNo then, but there certainly wasn’t anyone telling me “No” either. Still, under rejection’s influence, I acutely feel those lost hours as I scan the NaNo forums for sincere people with whom I might exchange writerly cheer and encouragement.
I am sick and tired of praying for “…strength and wisdom…;” of repeating “shikata ga nai;” of quoting Neitzsche; of quietly surrendering my life to the “it is what it is” creed. I need to recognize that though there is validity in acknowledging present circumstances as reality, there is also a danger of establishing the habit of accepting the status quo as absolute. This is part of rejection’s false advertising. I must recognize that my reality, though challenged, is only one of many options. If I want to change the present, then I must go about the business of changing what I can, accepting what I cannot, and moving forward. To this end, I switched my NaNo avatar from “Nothing is forgotten” (because, as I’m coming to understand, some things just absolutely fucking need to be forgotten) to a portrait of myself, sitting at a desk that no longer inhabits a library that no longer exists, smoking my favorite long-stemmed pipe, in all my receding hair-line and white bearded mortal glory. I wish I had more time and more hair, less gray and less weight…but I don’t. This is me. It’s time to stop worrying “…about the air when that’s all there is to breathe.” It’s time to heal, find my center and, as my gravatar profile suggests, “…live gently, love well and learn as much as I can with the time I’ve been gifted.”