Saturday, 12 September 2009
The Next Big Thing?
I haven´t written in a while because I´ve been thinking.
I´ve been thinking while I stay very busy doing heavy work.
It´s hot here still. We´re in the heart of the dry, brown period of the year, the only couple of months we have when the fields are not green. Everyone´s sneezing from the dust.
In the house are Brian, the handyman from Pittsburgh, and Megan, a pretty couch-surfer from California.
We´ve got the back yard looking as good as a Appalachian-style mud-brick corral can look without recourse to bulldozers.
The outside walls are now resplendent in a coat of fresh ochre.
The woodpile is two layers deep and under cover. The timber pile is sorted-out, and the scrap – boards so studded with nails and spikes, staples and clasps they´d tear the teeth off the chainsaw – is stacked out back waiting for a day calm and cool and damp enough for a bonfire. We spread gravel out there, so when the rain finally arrives we can visit our chickens without wading through gluey mud.
It´s been forever since it rained.
On Monday I meet with Piers Nicholson, a cartographer from the Confraternity of St. James in London, to hike up and waymark the mountain path over the Camino San Salvador. I am praying the rain holds off until we finish.
Brian, meanwhile, is tearing the tiles off the leaky roof over the Hermitage. The waterproofing membrane will be delivered on Monday.
So, of course, for the first time in weeks, the sky to the north is piling up with lead-bellied clouds. A breeze is picking up. I located a massive sheet of black plastic that dates back to the first entry on this blog... the May when we had no roof, the May with unprecedented rainstorms!
I am thinking about those old stories nowadays.
While I´m chatting with the visitors and ordering people around, I am also thinking. I get the usual mind-racket of Tarantino movies and books I want to read, who´s coming over next week, airline ticket prices, currency exchange rates, Una´s medicines, and the latest rant on www.pilgrimage-to-santiago.com.
But late at night when everyone else is sleeping I think about the Torremolinos puzzle, and money, and future security, and how to distribute funds to pay for next year´s maintenance projects.
Most of all, I am thinking about a book.
I want to write a book.
This is a condition that descends on me like a long season. I usually respond to it by editing someone else´s book, or outlining a few good ideas of my own.
I know how to write books. Four of mine were actually published, but they are not anything I´d recommend for light reading. (They are mostly guides to herbal medicines and alternative treatments for specific illnesses.)
And like most people of my persuasion, I have committed a novel.
It´s a camino adventure story, 14th century. It´s been kicking around in some form or another for a good 15 years now, and I believe that by now it is unpublishable.
So I think I (maybe with Paddy) should write something I know. A Peaceable Kingdom book.
It will be great fun. I love writing on a long-term project I can get my teeth into.
So while I saw firewood I slice and dice our experience into topics, chapters, characters, seasons.
Paddy and I discuss. We don´t argue, not yet. But we´re both thinking it.
We have a book here, and we have an audience, too. We just have to get it written.
Once the roofing jobs are done and paid-for, and once the Holy Year hubbub dies down, and if a quiet place and time can be carved-out, and a story arc can be established while we still are living the story. I´ll need an editor. Eventually I will need to find another agent. Perhaps, someday, if the stars align and I meet the Devil at the crossroads at midnight, a publisher!
Or maybe we´ll publish it online.
But I am running way out ahead of myself. (Kim the graphic artist/former shimmering butler, who is herself not above getting ahead of myself, made up the book cover above. It will be hard to live up to!)
This, right now, is the hardest part of all – getting past all the excuses and just starting the work.
Today I re-found a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite poets. It says:
If the angel
deigns to come
it will be because
you have convinced
her, not by tears
but by your humble
resolve to be always
beginning; to be