I’m riding on the Greyhound, southbound from Marietta, Ohio back to West Park, Florida, after having been in Ohio due to the death of my father. I was unable to say goodbye to him in person one last time, but at least I was able to say goodbye in a way, and to be there for my Mom, whose birthday followed very shortly after my father’s death.
It’s difficult for me to know what to say about my father. Though we have had our differences, and I didn’t speak to him for a while during my twenties over a very foolish matter, we have nevertheless always been able to understand each other fairly well – better, I think, than most other people understood him, and certainly better than most people understand me. I’ve also always had a very deep respect for him. My father was a very serious, responsible man, who always took care of whatever needed to be done ahead of time, prepared for eventualities, and just generally kept all of his ducks in a row. Thus, at the time of his death, there was none of the usual chaos that so often accompanies such losses. He made all of his arrangements ahead of time.
Of the people I have known personally, he is one of the ones whom I’ve most admired and respected. He always did what he thought was right. He could be stiff and stubborn at times, but he always had a strong moral compass, and a good heart. And when he wanted to be, he could be pretty funny. Also, he was one of the only two or three other people in the world with the same attention span for museums and zoos and such that I have. I wish I could have had the chance to speak to him for just a little bit in the last days before he died. but I guess we never do get the one last chance we always want to speak with those we love, because no matter how often we speak to them, we will always want to do so again.
My father and my mother instilled in their children a profound love of reading, and of learning in general. They did this primarily in the simplest way possible: They loved reading, themselves, and they showed and shared that love to us. Trips to the library were regular and frequent events when I was young, and visits to the bookstore rarely went unrewarded. My father used to have a shirt with a quote from some famous individual (I forget which one), who said, “When I get a little money, I buy books. If there’s any leftover, I get food and clothes.” That may not be perfectly accurate, but it’s pretty close, and it’s certainly accurate as a description of my family’s attitude toward books.
From that infectious love of reading sprung up in me an equally powerful love of writing, which I am finally acting on as fully as I had always intended to do in the past, but had allowed other things to distract me, thinking that I was being responsible. And though I don’t regret any of the choices of my past (or at least very few), I think I have been wrong not to dedicate myself to that calling which I love the most: Writing.
On that note, I will diverge from reminiscences about my father and his influence upon me. I’m sure there will be other such thoughts in abundance going forward. Instead, I’ll give you all a minor update.
I am almost finished with my latest (not very) short story. It should be done within the next few days, then I’ll take a brief diversion from it and finish the first round of rewrite of Mark Red before going back to edit the short story, then publishing it here, on my blog, for your (hopeful) enjoyment and your (requested) feedback. It’s an experiment. I tend to do a lot of them.
With that said, I don’t think I’m going to repeat my experiment of writing a story one or so pages a day and then editing another story or book at the same time. I feel that it’s slowed the writing of the short story down, without actually preventing it from growing to the size it wanted to be. It’s also been a strange diversion of mind to go from one story to another very different one, during the course of a single sitting. So I shall do one story at a time in the future, and if I’m writing something new, that’s all that I will do, at least for the time I am writing it…if you get my meaning. And if I’m rewriting and editing, then that’s what I’ll do for that day, or week, or month, or year, or whatever. I think it’s the best way to go.
That said, I shall soon – after the publishing of the short story – get on with the finishing touches on Mark Red so that it can be published. Then, at long last, as I’ve said before, The Chasm and the Collision will be completed, and I can move on to writing Unanimity…and the dozens of other stories that lie waiting beyond.
Ideas have never been my particular challenge. Time is my obstacle.
I expect I shall also be writing more short stories in the interim. Those ideas pop into my head more readily, at times, than ideas for novels, though they do tend to be longer than some short stories. And I still want to rewrite a few of those that I lost over the years. We shall see.
Well, that’s more or less all for now. I’m sad, but I’m not despairing, and I’m determined to continue to live my life in a way that I think would make my father proud of me, and will make my mother, as well as my brother and sister, and especially my children, proud of me. I’m sure I’ll slip up at times in the future. I certainly have done so in the past. But I have a good sense of balance, and if I have inherited one thing from my father in abundance, it’s stubbornness.