In The Writer's World

The State of the State

Imagine a morning in early December, to paraphrase Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory”. “A coming of winter morning….”

Today is such a morning, dry, with thin sunshine and a distinct chill to the air. Christmas season is in full swing.

Leif Norby as “Buddy” remembers a special Christmas with his friend in Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

I have alerted my friends that there will be no gifts this year, save the panforte, which I still enjoy making. My love of Christmas in earlier days has become a love-hate relationship, and sometimes even hate-hate. There was the child lost years ago. Ian. The saddest Christmas ever. And then, not too many years later, my mother died on December 23. It occurred to me this morning that her ill-timed leave-taking was the final blow. I mean really. How rude. How empty the feeling after.

Pippa Southard as Gladys Herdman in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Lakewood Theatre Company. Photo by Lakewood Theatre Company.

I’ve gone through the motions ever since, with increasing angst. There was the year Herself nearly went postal the fifteenth time she heard “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Last year, on December 23, a co-worker’s life was in dire jeopardy. It’s just not worth it.

No, Herself is not declaring war on Christmas. She knows way too many people who have lost children. And mothers. And Christmas is still Christmas, filled with the spirit of love in some ideal world. Herself holds dear the meaning, and the love and coming together of friends during the season, the memories of those no longer with her, and her own little rituals and celebrations. This is about shutting out the rest–the pushiness and bad music, screaming advertisements, and too much stuff. And dialing it down a notch. In the shortest days, to have the things I have is more than enough.

The State of the Novel 

As I lay in the bathtub this morning, I saw the ending of the novel. It frightened me. I tried to imagine how it would all play out in the end for Sage, Granny, Andy, and the rest….

Often it is the bathtub is where good ideas materialize, so don’t laugh. Think, instead, of Winston Churchill and Dalton Trumbo. A good walk will make room for ideas, too. Thus far, 186 pages, 60,000 words have been come out of me on this project. I always feel like nothing is happening, and it has gone slowly. But, then I look at the total. How wonderful it is to have come so far.

Other Stuff

It was a light month for great reads, although I did enjoy Celine by Peter Heller. His 68-year-old recovering alcoholic detective who just happens to be on the New York Social Register kicks ass! Her husband is great, too. A very elegant, understated couple!

If you are in the Portland area, there are lots of holiday-themed theatrical performances worth taking in: A Christmas Carol at Portland Playhouse; A Christmas Memory and Winter Song at Portland Center Stage; Twist Your Dickens opening Friday December 8 at Portland Center Stage; and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, opening December 14 at Lakewood Theatre are among the offerings. What fun!

Two words: Gratitude and Acceptance. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanza. Solstice Greetings. Happy whatever else I may have missed. God bless us every one!



Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search