Writing about writing a book – Day 30

I’m having fun with chapter one.

Can you reach a point where you are never satisfied with what you’ve written?

What more can I say?

It’s time to go to work and make Benson squirm.  Pity, it’s only make-believe because in real life there were several people I would have liked to put to the sword.

Is that a variation of those who cannot do teach, i.e. those who cannot do, write about it?

 

I took the bus rather than drove.  At that hour of the morning, the traffic would be bad, and there would be no parking spaces left.  And I was using public transport more and more, have become accustomed to the convenience.  Time to read the paper, or a good book, or just dream about a different life.

This morning I thought about Ellen.  I hadn’t for a while, but that might have been fueled by the arrival of the divorce papers she wanted me to sign.  I’d had my time to be angry, and disappointed, she’d said, and she was right.  It was time to move on.

And she had stuck by me through thick and thin, coming back from overseas service a basket case after nine months in a POW camp, after a war that was more horrible than anyone could imagine.  Two mental breakdowns, periods of indolence and lassitude, leaving her to bring up the girls on her own.  I had not been a great father, and much less a husband.

I remembered that argument word for word.

I could see the looks of pain in the girl’s faces.

I remembered the hug, the kiss on the cheek, the tears.  It had not been out of hate, but a necessity.  For her and the children.  Until I found some lasting peace, they were better off at arm’s length.  Away from the arguing, the silences, the absences.

And disappointment.

After she left I tried to get my life in order.  Drugs, professional help, alcohol, meditation, then work.

Over ten years ago, it took a year, perhaps a little more before sanity returned.

She did not.

By then I knew she had found someone else, a mystery man, whom neither she would tell me who, and the girls honestly didn’t know.  She’d promised that much, any new man in her life would not get to meet the girls.  And she would tell me, and then when she was ready.

Then, suddenly, the children were no longer children but young adults and out in the world on their own, and I had become more a banker than a father, an observer rather than a participant, and it was as if we were more like ships passing in the night.  And overnight, the ships had sailed to the other side of the world.

My own fault, of course, and a bit late now to change history.  I could see Ellen’s influence over them, her prejudices and dislikes, and their contempt, like their mother, for me, simmering beneath the surface, but in fairness to them, I really hadn’t been much of a help as a parent should be.

And now I was getting my life back in order, perhaps I could try and make it up to them, and that first meeting, with them and Ellen, nearly a month ago, had been a step in the right direction.  They’d agreed to see me again, without her, during the holidays, which had now arrived.  All I had to do was make the call, and get on a plane.

This mess I was heading into, it would not take long.  I pulled out my phone and after searching for a travel agent near where I worked, I made an appointment to see about going overseas.

She had spoken to me about the divorce papers several days ago, alternately pleading with, and then abusing, me.  There had been some very strong language in the conversation, words I’d thought her incapable of using, but I confess, finally, I didn’t really know her all that well anymore.

Since then I had been calling her to arrange a meeting.  She had not yet replied.  With some distance to go before I reached the office, I tried calling her again.  I was almost glad when she didn’t answer.

 

I never realized just how hard it was to revise and re-write, and how much time it takes.

Perhaps that’s why first novels take so long to write!

 

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

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