Sunday, December 02, 2018

i spent the last half of the month of november putting photos of the family up on this blog. at first there was a kind of order; i went through my kids, then my grandkids, then my siblings, and then into my cousins, and finally my parents, but that isn't really much of an order, if you think about it, and i knew it, so, by the time i was done, i was just throwing pictures up there and not even labeling them. it occurred to me that what i liked was when i had several of them together, for example, one of my children holding one of my grandchildren - and that, of course, doesn't really fall into any one category. on the other hand, november is gratitude month, and i was feeling grateful, and in fact i'm grateful for the whole lot of them. i'm grateful that i'm still alive. i'm grateful that they are kind of there, with me, at every moment.

the blog has now been going for almost fifteen years, and the pictures are to some degree a distraction. mostly the blog is more like this post: me rambling about whatever is on my mind, using small letters, no caps, to show that i am really imposing no discipline on my writing whatsoever. it has survived partly because i do it mostly for myself, to keep writing, to keep putting thoughts into words, so as to not become stagnant. to some degree i have become stagnant in my own writing; i have two novels dead in the water, i keep getting stuck on my historical non-fiction book, and my autobiography (just passing through: true stories from out there), which is kind of spun off from this very spot, is almost done, but just can't get over that one hump. but here, i keep having the impulse to write, and i write. if writing stops in all other places, it doesn't stop here. and there's plenty to talk about.

right now an enormous storm is coming up in our faces, in our small cabin overlooking the tularosa basin and the white sands, facing west out toward the san andres mountains of south-central new mexico. we've had a couple of snows already, at nine thousand feet, and because part of the mountains are in the shade, some of that snow is likely to stay on the ground right through until the sun gets high up in the sky around april. but we haven't had more than a few inches, so the winter-sports enthusiasts are a little disappointed, and still waiting for the big one, which could be this one. Enough snow to go sledding, that's what they want, or, in my case, cold enough to skate. this is really a skating town more than a skiing town, and it's time to get started.

i've had blocked up ears now for about a week; i'm not hearing properly, and i get echoes in my ears from all the things i'm missing. it hasn't made me angry, although, as a musician, i should probably be feeling like my whole hobby, my music, is threatened, which it is. but it doesn't hurt, and something inside me tells me, it's just stopped up, it's not totally damaged. also, in the life i live, day in and day out, with four noisy kids and teenage friends all over the place, and being a substitute teacher during the day, i'm actually grateful sometimes to be able to just tune it out. one side of me is saying, finally i can just zone out and concentrate on my writing.

alas, but when i turn my attention to the leveretts, the historical book i've almost finished, i just peter out. it's almost done. i've run through the various fires of early boston, leading up to the one that did in madame leverett, though i can't find the details exactly, and then the big one, in 1711, which did in the entire neighborhood. the truly big one was in 1760, and even that one was eclipsed later, probably, but since my story, this story, pretty much ends in 1711, i have chosen this fire as a kind of climax, that happens just when the story is about over. at this point we have read about the four leveretts in a row, the last of whom is not even our ancestor, as far as we know. they are an interesting lot of characters, and really, i have to say, this is only a preliminary investigation, and, once it's over, i'll put it down for a while, but will not, probably, keep it down forever. i get the strong sense that there's lots more to learn, and that it is available, and that i'm just not seeing some of it. so that makes me hesitant to publish, hesitant to make that last push.

same way with the autobiography. if my life were to take a break, and stop changing so dramatically every day, i would reach a point, maybe, where i'd say, now's as good a time as any to publish this, and get it out there. i've done what i could, i've gone over the hump, it's time to call it a life, put it all in one book, and call it a wrap. but in fact i'm even now making critical decisions that i know will affect the whole thing. one is whether to keep going forward with this being-a-public-school-teacher plan, which, to tell the truth, i'm feeling a little too old to go on with. for one thing, i'm slipping physically; i don't always hear everything. but worse, students misbehave, and i've about run out of outrage, or the strong enough feeling to follow through and throw the book at them. somebody needs to be in there who is not afraid of the process of turning them in, following through, giving them the attention they need. i, myself, am slipping. after ten kids, i'm beginning to lose my voice, and my hearing.

i can still write; i know i still have at least two novels in me, and probably a third, just waiting for me to have the time to actually produce them. i've always thought about myself as a novelist, even though i've failed at every attempt so far, or rather, just failed to finish. i've always thought, short stories kill the time, get me out there, get me started, and i can do them in a couple of days, with a single one devoted to the actual writing. but i haven't been able to successfully finish the novels i've started, partly because they didn't have a single, streamlined purpose, but rather, tackled lots of different issues, whatever was on my mind at the time, and thus became somewhat jumbled and lost in the thick of it. i think that what i need to do is go back, streamline them, make my purpose a little clearer, and stop going off the main road. i'll start with the texas one. that one is literally on the tip of my tongue; i want to get texas down on paper before i forget about it. i want to show what it's like to just pass through texas, and admire it for what it is. but i need a single plan, a blueprint. maybe i need to establish that kind of organization before i write; that's what i tell my writing students to do. write down your plan, then write. that way you'll know where you're going.

as a rebel, i always believed in just starting out on a journey, and not necessarily knowing where i was going, or at least, being absolutely willing to change course almost immediately upon embarking. part of one's job, then, is to just be so totally aware that you can alter your course spontaneously and not do something completely stupid, but rather, appear to be following your whim. this doesn't seem to work with novels. i'm a writer; i can write; but i can't use that old hippie kind of mentality on a serious undertaking like a novel. and when i try, i end up with a novel, stuck in the water.

on the brink of winter; it's december now. i tell you, scroll down through november, and see my entire family. for now, this blog turns back to its original purpose, my own rambling about my own life. i leave out some important details: my wife, my kids, my sexuality, that kind of stuff. i brood about my writing here. but now, i also put pictures of my family. i've come to trust blogger as just a place that's always there, that, in its own kind of benevolent way, can show all kinds of things, and either attract a lot of attention, or not, depending on what i want. and i'm not consistently greedy enough to want a lot of attention all of the time; that also is a problem hampering my music career. i love the music, but i really don't care if people treat me like background, and just keep on talking while i'm playing. a more gregarious person, if i were, would just go out and demand more attention for all this hard work. but to me, the reward is in the product itself, and i care a lot less whether people actually see it.

so it goes; i fade back into the mountain hillsides, and the world will go on without me, i'm sure. my son now is up to about 30 000 subs for a single channel, raking in the cash for creative skills that he could have got partly from me. i however am lucky to sell even a single book.


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