I have to say something but I’ll keep it brief

I have to say something but I’ll keep it brief

From the vantage point of comfort and success I look around and simply accept that this world I know is and always was inevitable. Things are this way because they should be.

I live in a nice house and have a lifestyle that allows me to sit fifteen feet over a jackfruit tree and listen to good music and write to my heart’s content. I can do this because I went to school, was good at it, worked reasonably hard, and played my cards right. I got quite a few lucky breaks, too, but it’s easy to look those as corrections. Here on this balcony is where I was meant to me, and the lucky breaks I got–an enormous scholarship to a prestigious university, a job offer in Mongolia, a friend of a friend who fell in love with me over too many drinks and then stuck around even after the alcohol wore off–was just the universe correcting itself and getting back onto the correct preordained path after an unexpected sidetracking.

But it didn’t have to be this way. I once nearly joined the military, and it’s hard to imagine how that path would have brought me to this life.

I was homeless once, but I never had to sleep on the street or in a shelter because I had enough friends who could, and did, let me crash for a night or two. So I was always showered and safe and fed and happy, even at my worst, and in position to get a job and resume my life when the opportunity arose. Which it did. But things could have been very different.

And of course I had been madly in love many times before. From time to time I poke around on Facebook and find those old flames, and none of them, I assure you, would have brought me here.

Continue reading “I have to say something but I’ll keep it brief”

Peter Mays Goes For A Walk

Peter Mays Goes For A Walk

Too old for this. Same mistakes. Tell her again. And again.

The ceiling fan only blows the heat around. Pillow too flat. Sheets all a mess.

Too old and too stupid.

It got to the point where he couldn’t breathe anymore and there was no use staying in bed. She was tossing in bed, too, and he wanted to ask her if she was mad at him, but he didn’t want to to acknowledge that she had a reason for being angry. She clearly was, but wasn’t saying it, so maybe he could hope that she wasn’t.

It was all so stupid, and he couldn’t believe that he was here, tossing in his bed, over the same stupid shit yet again.

Every step of the way could be justified, but the end result was always the same, and somehow it was only he who ended up here so he had to face that it was him, entirely him.

He wanted to die. But not quite. Death would leave grieving, accusation, disappointment. Wounds that would fester in his children. It would make her wonder if she had been wrong to be so angry, and she didn’t deserve that doubt. She was right to be angry. Again.

He didn’t want to die but he wanted to stop living. To stop being. Cast a spell and erase himself from the world and from everyone.

Impossibilities, he knew. Peter got out of bed. He used the bathroom for the fifth time that evening, had a glass of water, took an Advil for a headache he wasn’t sure he had. Instead of going back to bed he went to the couch and turned the fan directly onto himself. When he couldn’t cool down he knew it wasn’t the heat. It wasn’t that hot tonight.

The idea came to him that he needed a walk, and so after debating it in his head for an hour or so–now well past midnight, with his alarm set to wake him in just over four hours–he got up and got dressed.

He left his phone but took some cash–maybe he could get a coffee somewhere–and stepped out into the night.

Continue reading “Peter Mays Goes For A Walk”

Too many projects

Too many projects

I recently nearly landed a new job, which would have been a great boon financially but a total disaster personally. I couldn’t turn down the money so I went in for the interview and did my best; fortunately for all of us there was a better candidate. (Though my pride does wonder who.)

In the weeks leading up to that interview I had begun to face the possibility that my daily writing spree was going to be reduced once again to stolen moments here and there. Not that stolen moments are impossible to work around–I’ve written two novels and several plays under those constraints–but the luxury of stretching out in my office for hours on end will be hard to give up. And I don’t need the money that badly, not yet.

So a quick survey of what I’m up to: on Sundays I dig through my photo archives and find pretty pictures I have taken throughout my life, up to the point where I joined Instagram and started doing posting things in real time.

On Tuesdays (today!) I dig a little bit into my mind and lay it out here. Just a little, though. You aren’t here for me. Or at least you shouldn’t be.

Fridays I publish fiction. I’ve been doing one a week for the past few weeks, and hope to sustain this pace for as long as possible.

That leaves the other days open for longer-term projects. I’m still working on editing Tantibus, the novel I wrote last year; and its sequel, Allegiance, for which a rough draft is about halfway done. I’m also polishing a couple of old plays that I hope to e-publish. Who knows, somebody might even perform them (I’ll waive royalties to anyone who really does stage them!).

About four years ago, mostly during lunch breaks, I wrote a novel that I refused to share with anyone. I had my reasons: it was a significant departure for me stylistically; I wasn’t comfortable with some of the themes; and there was a giant hole in my knowledge about the subject that I tried to finesse but wasn’t sure I had succeeded in doing. Also, because I wrote in a hurry, usually with a tuna sandwich next to the keyboard (lunchtime, remember), the writing itself was thin.

But when I finished the first draft I did tell my loved ones that I had written one (“I’m not going to let you read it so don’t ask, but I want you to know I finished a novel. Fifty-five thousand words.”) if only so they could understand why I was so proud of myself.

I promised that I would revisit the story when things quieted down, but they never actually did. From time to time I would open the file, navigate to my favorite chapters, and glance sadly at the ones that desperately needed work. And then one day I got a new computer, and somewhere between one machine and the other the entire novel disappeared, even from the cloud and Dropbox. Just poof!

I wasn’t even sad. I was never going to show it to anyone, I said to myself, so it was best to let go. And the next day I got to work in earnest on Tantibus, which I did show to my loved ones.

But in the past few weeks my lost novel has come back to me. There were some powerful images in it, and more than a few compelling characters. I had some time to reflect while walking on the beach a few days ago, and I realized that the huge hole in my knowledge that bedeviled my first attempt has been largely filled up by life experience, and I could probably now tackle it head on.

Yesterday I opened a new file and reintroduced myself to Alison Britten and her sister Shelly. In the intervening years my original title was stolen by a not-very-good television show, so I’ll have to think of a new one, but the girls remain themselves, and their story still resonates with me, and this time I hope to do them justice.

So long as I have the time.