An acquaintance told me recently that they thought I'd "fallen off the map." Not as many gigs, or art shows, and certainly nothing on the blog since the passing of my dog Freida last year.
But nah. I didn't fall off the map. Am exploring a different highway, that's all. I'm writing a damned book. Fiction. A collection of interlocking short stories. Started almost a year ago, and it's almost half drafted.
A book wasn't in my master plan. Back in 2017, I took the dive into National Novel Writing Month and threw down 80K words. When I picked up the pages to read through them 12 weeks later, I vacillated between nausea and guffaws. It was the worst manuscript ever written. But real problem was that I had no idea how to fix it. I put those pages in a box and stuck them somewhere in this office of mine. Honestly, I'm not sure I could find them now, and that's for the best.
But last year I joined a few thousand other creative types in Austin and enrolled at Austin Community College in order to buy decent health insurance. On the modern American hierarchy of needs, that's a big one, and any TX resident on the healthcare exchange knows how crappy that outrageously expensive coverage is. When I enrolled at ACC, I had to declare a major, so I shrugged my shoulders and picked creative writing*. And while that sweet health insurance benefit disappeared this semester, I'm still in school. Turns out I love the classroom, especially when a ridiculously excellent teacher is 20 feet in front of me. I got my B.A. from Duke many years ago, and I'm proud of that, but the instruction I'm getting right now beats what I got in almost every undergrad course I took.
Of course, back then, my primary course of study involved booze, and several illicit substances, and off-campus shenanigans. Jesus, those were good times...
Anyway, this blog post is what an astute editor might call "feckless pondering." In fiction (or nonfiction for that matter), it's best avoided if you want your reader to turn the page.
There's no astute editor for this page, however, so I can tell you that I've got a new dog, and that the house has a rodent problem (which the new dog discovered) that's getting fixed today. I can tell you that aging is not for pussies (but you already knew that), that it's pointless to even try to find my waistline again, and I wish I could've skipped over my 59th birthday and gone straight to the big 6-0 because I think I look tired for 59 but look pretty good for 60. I can share that I'm sick to my stomach at what's happened to our nation, and I want to see the Crook-in-Chief behind bars and a Dem back in the White House. I might even take the time to explain why, as of this writing, my dream ticket is Warren-Buttigieg, but I'll vote for a toothpick to take back the White House if it comes to that. And that we Boomers owe a helluvan apology to everyone else for fucking up the planet.
I could--maybe should, maybe will--write those essays. But I've got a story to rewrite for class. It's fiction. Thank goodness.
*Creative writing isn't typically offered at the community college level. In fact, this program is one of only a handful in the nation. You live in ATX and want to write? Want to feel your head explode? Take a class, preferably with Charlotte Gullick.