Last night I attended another meeting of The Unauthorized Book Club for the LDS Ladies of Heath. On the docket, Wallace Stegner’s masterpiece, The Angle of Repose. Revisiting that book was as sensual as ever, each line better than the smoothest dark chocolate. His words hum in my mind whenever I read Stegner. I’ve packed Crossing to Safety in my suitcase as I head out for a week-end retreat, of sorts.
But reading Stegner also awakes in me a passion to hum my own literary words. The problem is, I’m taking a break. A necessary break. And not writing. I’ve lived in a fog of disappointment the past few years because I feel I should be able to chip away blocks of time sufficient for me to finish Holding Back the Moon, which is, to me, something I feel called to write. But family matters have pressed and, at times, been extremely urgent and so, as I chose the better part in my day-to-day living, I mourned the loss of my time. I’m getting older and I worry I will die before I finish. That used to be a joke. Not so much anymore.
But by the end of the summer, I knew that this school year was going to be like the last two. I had to decide if I was going to just let go of my desire to finish this novel in the next few months or fight to keep going–and still not finish. I let go. Not of the intent to finish. One of the ladies pointed out last night that Stegner had called The Angle of Repose THE book he was meant to write. I feel that way about Holding Back the Moon, though I have no delusion that it will be as brilliant as Stegner’s masterpiece. I do hope it finds a few readers, though, but sometimes readership is little more than a pleasant happenstance. The point is, I need to say what I want to say, to tell the story that vibrates in my soul. Hell. To be free of it, to shed it like snake skin. (Consider that last simile a substitute for the one I really want to use, but am too polite to use.) But my bondage will continue, at least until the following school year, and I will not write.
But while I’m not writing, how will I stay sane? That’s a problem. About the time I was making the decision to not write this school year, Stephen Carter was arranging a blind date, of sorts, with Michael Perry of Leicester Bay Books. I resisted because I didn’t want to have one more thing to call my time away from the novel I need to finish. Then I gave in. A credit’s a credit and Island of the Stone Boy WAS just sitting in my hardrive. So now its available for purchase. I’ve not made a secret of the fact that Michael picked up my LDS historical fiction series for kids, The Adventures of the Restoration. The first two novels are essentially written–and have been for over a decade–and Book One: Get That Gold! will be released very soon. So while I’m not writing, I’m rewriting, proofing, and all that goes along with it. I’ll spend the summer spitting out a couple more of those, provided, I suppose, they are well enough received. But I’m not writing, you understand.
There it is again. That Stegner hum in my head.
Apparently I can’t not write, even if I can’t continue to build the unwritten novel that haunts me. I waste too much time composing posts on Facebook, a fact that compells me to toy with the idea of trying a non-fiction. Maybe something that delineates the difference between a crisis of faith and a crisis of culture. Maybe something that celebrates the subversive side of Mormonism. (Anyone who emulates Christ must be willing to be subversive now and then.) Something that strips back the culture–and maybe has a little fun doing it–to reveal the doctrinal shine underneath. Yes, I’m not writing so I need to find someting to write or I might go crazy
But no serious, time-consuming fiction.
Somebody, please, tell me how to turn Stegner off!
For the record, I had twenty minutes to kill today before I throw the Caboose Kid in the car and we head to the cabin for the weekend. I’m pleased with myself for writing–which I’m not doing just so you know–this blog post instead of using those minutes to save the world, one Facebook post at a time.