I’ve typically been a non-fiction writer, but not the kind of non-fiction that results in a 500 page whopper on something super interesting like Architecture, Anne Frank, or Autism. No, more of vanity non-fiction like a memoir. Ten years and counting before I realized that perhaps I wasn’t that interesting to be filed in a bookshelf next to a Bill Clinton Autobiography or a book by Joseph Campbell. Hell, I’m not even halfway as interesting as Augusten Burroughs as to have a book remotely touching the same bookshelf. So I tuck it away in a trunk, but what you must know is to a writer this, the act of putting away a manuscript, is like putting away your winter clothes knowing that next winter it won’t fit. So it goes, into an out-of-sight-out-of-mind place to coexist in a box with forgotten pieces of a former life. Shedding skin is hard enough, but you grow more and it’s usually more radiant.
I’m writing fiction, now. It’s much easier and I’ve grown twofolds from my last manuscript. For example, I now work off tightly worked out outlines rather than freestyle. My stream of consciousness writing could go on for an eternity, but hey Aldous Huxley did well with it. I know the story like the back of my hand and it’s not just written there like the good ol’ days. I know at exactly what point I need to have conflict or resolution and while I might veer ever so slightly from the well-thought out path for the sake of adding memory, I never take a chance on arriving at a dead end.
Funny, I’m much more wise but yet less intelligent than I used to be so it’s become difficult to match the unparelled wit of my twenties. When I was a sponge, I could absorb and ring out so much more. I’m more like a scrubber now, it comes in and out but my sole purpose is to scratch out what I can just to see the surface.
So here I sit, only a paragraph away from killing off a character that was loosely based upon someone I knew way back when I was smarter. The difficulty in this is that once someone is immortalized by woven text, they become harder to say that last goodbye. It’s not the first goodbye, that was so easy because life was happening at that moment and you had to be in it. Maybe there were more coming and going with idle goodbyes, which is not truly a separation. Kahil Gibran said it best in The Prophet, “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” I’m ready, though, to see this story to its end even if it’s merely one book in a lifetime of books to come. Many of them, perhaps, left unresolved for the characters but resolving the storyline for me. So let this book be the death of the unrequited love, and may the symbol she brings rest in literary peace.
I hope this manuscript doesn’t end up in the trunk with the other one, but either way I’ll write more resolve until the end of my days and behind me I’ll leave a heavy trunk.