Of course it was about writing a novel. Mine often are, as, well, that’s what I do! Just about everything in my life circles back into fiction, one way or another.
It doesn’t matter what the journey focuses on, though; any undertaking follows a similar path, with the litany of pitfalls along the way. You know the forks in these roads, the trip-ups along the cobblestone street. We all do. That’s just part of living life.
This poor novel, though. I feel such empathy for it. Never has one been so sorely mistreated in my world.
I actually began this one seven years ago. At a time when I thought I was “settled” and in the perfect place to take the silence necessary; not only the time but the mindset required to submerse myself in a story, its characters coming from only the gods know where. As any writer will tell you, that space must exist from which to create.
And I really liked the way this novel was going. I kept meeting these delightful folks on the pages, the layers circling ever deeper. Wondering where this was taking them—and me—as we typed along. Ah, the creative sensations!
And then, wham! Real life. And lots of it. The critical kind. My parents were in an awful wreck, from which my elderly father never really recovered, and being the daughter (you know that drill!), I was the primary manager of their care. Hospitals, rehab centers, more hospitals, nursing homes, a dreadful road of dementia, a brutal bout with cancer, more hospitals, and finally, the funeral home. Twice in five months. All of which played out over a many-year cycle of heartache.
Over the initial one-year span, after my parents were in said wreck, I went through a major life change of my own, and also lost a six-month-old gorgeous Labrador puppy who took half of my heart with her.
Yep, real life. Indeed.
Many folks go through these cycles, where it seems only sadness and grief accompany us on the road. That affects everyone’s job performance. How can it not? Many times we’re just good to put one foot in front of the other.
Which we do. Life does go on, bringing us along on its cresting seas whether we want to be dragged or not.
Pretty much slaughters creative endeavor though. When the real world is fraught with demons, no need exists to create more in your mind.
But that novel never left me. Those characters kept whispering softly in the night. Letting me know they were there and wouldn’t leave me, that when I could wend my way back we could pick up the tale.
Fictional characters are just generous that way.
And we did. Finally the cobwebs were cleared. Finally the typing began again. Hesitantly at first. An easing back in as you do when meeting an old lover after so long has passed.
Of course the book is vitally changed. A huge positive about all that ‘real life’ is that it changes us—adds depth and texture and understanding we couldn’t have even fathomed existed before. And that translates straight to the page.
One thing I believe for true is that even in the midst of heartache and anxiety and sorrow and fear, the richness of life marches on, there for us to grasp and know on ever-deepening levels. And oh, does that ever translate to the page!
So I’m back on that journey of 10,000 steps, which I started so long ago, listening as the wind soughs through the rows and rows of wine grapes, feeling the hot summer sun on my skin and the cool sweet darkness of the cask room. And oh so grateful to be there.
We never know where a journey’s going to take us. But ah, how blessed we are to be on that ride!