Good Narrative Principles

Motoring Around The Block


It is nearly impossible to write with all this hanging on my head. I said nearly, not completely.

There still is that twitchy finger, that feeling that this is what I should be doing. Should as in its a habit. Some people getting caught up in the shower of praise and applause. Others gravitate towards the intricacies of wine. All time spent waiting for that bottle to be cracked open feels like itchy moments. For some its motion. I heard this story about a father being eulogized and what his kids remember most about their childhood is getting in the car on a Sunday and driving. It could have been around the block as far as Dad was concerned. But motion soothed his itchy self.

Pre-diagnoses and before I entered this long hellish hallway I’ve been stumbling through I would be vaguely aware that time was slipping through me. But it was measured in phenomenon like creaky knees or the retrospective awareness that “gee I must have looked old before” after I started dying my hair and friends and co-workers praised my new younger looking appearance.

So the kids were growing up and people would say “it sure goes by quickly” but I never felt that way. I felt like time moved the way it always did, blindly. I was still living my life, blindly. And that my children aging and not being young forever merely marked time in a more dramatic fashion, but it didn’t change the feel of life moving quickly, like the car motoring around the block on a Sunday afternoon.

I read this writer in the Times talking about his prostate cancer as the beginning of him getting wisdom. That sure is a comforting thought. Sometimes that is what I pray for. Though I wouldn’t call it prayer. Maybe I’d qualify more as a thought I send out into the universe. I ask that I learn whatever it is I’m supposed to learn by going through this illness.

But what if what I’m supposed to learn is that’s all you get? That I will never realize my deepest wish for creative connection. What if all that I’m supposed to accomplish in this life is bringing up two fine strong sons and living a full life with Tim?

In Writer’s Heaven I stand outside the bar where all the great minds are sloshing down one mug of ambrosia after another and the best I can do is press my nose against the glass and listen careful as they spin one story after another.

And the stories are so good that each writer listens to the other. For a moment they forget all about what they want to add or change or give feedback to.

The story is just there. Unraveling or raveling or weaving or building or whatever image best describes the shape of the story.

And each writer understands they’ll be up next and everyone will be listening to them. So they can be generous. They can listen deeply and be moved and still have time to write the next thing.

Because they have slipped beyond time.

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