Every day, Every day, Every day I Write the Book

“We all lead boring lives. But some of us write reports about it.” (paraphrased from the movie Naked Lunch dir David Cronenburg, a line spoken by the character portraying William S. Burroughs)

When I go on Twitter or anywhere else on line where it happens that I follow or am followed by or am capriciously linked to a bunch of writers via the inscrutable machinations of The Algorithm, I see people talking about writing. They say things like, “How many hours do you write a day?” and “What’s your favorite method for overcoming writer’s block?” and “How do you start writing when you don’t have any ideas?” and “I always dreamed of writing a book.”

I don’t really get any of those questions. Any writer writes as many hours as he or she has time to write. Lots of good writers have day jobs. As for overcoming “writer’s block” I don’t think there’s any such thing — but a person can be stuck in a project and not know where to go. And, if you don’t have any ideas, why are you writing? BUT last one I is, to me, the most incomprehensible. Why would anyone dream of writing a book? A book is a vehicle for the transmission of ideas. The book itself is nothing, an empty shell. It makes more sense to me to think, say, dream, “I want to tell this story!!!” Still, I’m not going to trample on anyone’s dreams, even the ones I find incomprehensible.

Godnose my dreams are pretty incomprehensible, like wanting to grow up to be Willy Mays. How was THAT ever going to happen?

One thing William S. Burroughs the real guy said that rings true to me is, “Well, Kerouac, Kerouac was a writer. That is, he wrote.” That is the primary requirement.


I’ve now written a bunch of books. Having done that, and gone through the grueling and surreal experience of trying to sell aforesaid (always wanted to write “aforesaid”) books, I still think I’m right. I loved writing them, even The Price which was really challenging to write and pushed me in directions I never thought of going and actually scared me a little. I experienced writer’s block because I arrived at points in the story where I didn’t know how to say what the story seemed to demand or, in a couple cases, I hated the characters. I didn’t want to recognize who, exactly, was the protagonist because I didn’t like him. But it all happened and I just re-read it and it’s a really good story. Still, I don’t know if there are any more stories that are going to demand that I sit in front of this computer screen and write them. No idea.

I kind of feel like Huck Finn at the end of his saga,

“…there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it, and ain’t a-going to no more…” Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/rdp-friday-book/

The Price

Many Americans don’t know that they are descended from Swiss Immigrants. I didn’t. Even those of us who do genealogical research might get the information that our ancestors came from a place called the “Palatinate,” or the Alsace, or some town in Southern Germany or the Black Forest. We may not think about how those people might have migrated themselves from towns in Switzerland during the hundred or so years between the Reformation and the moment that families began leaving Europe to settle in the “New World.”

The Price tells the story of these immigrants. The story is (very loosely) based on the story of my own family, a story that could be anyone’s, really. These people were Mennonites, originally from the area around Zürich. Some had fled persecution during the 16th century and gone to more Mennonite-friendly areas in the Alsace. Some fled and returned. Some stuck it out even when it meant imprisonment, confiscation of their property, the kidnapping of their children and death. 

My experience with American history was that all the people who came to America in pursuit of religious freedom wanted to, but my heart and mind told me that this could not be the case. The reality of their decision hit me as I stood on a boat landing on the Rhine in the town of Stein am Rhein in Switzerland. Over the landing was a date painted in bright colors, carved into stone. The date was 1665. 


I had no idea at the time (it was 1997) that any of my ancestors had come from Switzerland or that it was possible that they might have stood on this boat landing to board a river boat that would take them to Basel and from there to the comparatively friendly lands of the Palatinate. I did not know what the Palatinate was.

The boat landing and the customs house, the courtyard, the stairs, all of it contrasted completely with what I knew of life in America in 1665, and I understood at that moment what many European immigrants had left behind as I had not understood it before. For years I was haunted by that boat landing on the Rhine and my realization of what the decision to emigrate would have involved. In The Price I have written about the decision and what it cost those who made it.  

The Price is a loose sequel to The Brothers Path and the final book in a trilogy that begins with Savior

_______________________________________

The featured photo is of a cabin built by one of my ancestors, Jacob Leber, as it stood in its original location in Pennsylvania in the early 18th century. It is now in a park, having been bought, tagged and reassembled by someone who valued it. It’s a far cry from the boat landing and customs house in Stein am Rhein or any other buildings of its time in Switzerland.

Life as a Famous Writer

I have recently had some paintings published in a local literary and arts magazine. I haven’t seen the magazine yet since I didn’t go to the party for it which was some 30 miles away. Small community as big as Connecticut. Last year I had a story published in the magazine. The people who put it together are very nice, and I hope someday to meet them, but as I’m about as social as my dogs it may never happen.

Yesterday I got an email from a woman involved on the magazine, to whom I need to send a check. Anyhoo she wrote about The Price:

“Hi! Yesterday at the library I saw your latest book on the shelf and checked it out. I read it last night, and enjoyed immensely. It made me stop and think about what a different world we live in. Our daughter lives in Virginia, and we visit her a couple of times a year. When we say goodbye, it is for a little while, not forever. Thanks for writing that book.”

That email made me very happy because the real reason I write books is for people to read and enjoy. Of course, I didn’t know that when I set out on this journey some 20 years ago, but live and (inshallah) learn.

The Price is a good story with a very strong story line. I think it’s possibly the most relatable of any of my novels. I’m a little surprised more people haven’t wanted to read it, but that’s the life of a famous writer!

Why a Break…

Dear Dangerspouse (and everyone else):

I’ve learned over the years that nothing makes my teeth itch more than worrying about marketing my writing. But…I started this blog in 2013 just for that reason. I read a book about marketing self-published books (was that book self-published?) and it said that writing a blog on WordPress was essential to selling self-published books. At the time I was trying to sell Martin of Gfenn and Savior. There’s something to that. I think many of the books I sold over the years have been to readers of my blog. But…

So I made a profile and looked around to see what was going on here. I’d had blogs on Blogger, mostly private, written as I used to write my journals, a place to think, to vent, but the online thing was better because of pictures.

I saw a thing called the “Daily Prompt” (RIP) and thought it was just fucking stupid, but the book also said I had to build an audience on my blog, so I started writing the prompt every morning. What I learned was that — at 4:30 in the morning, the hour at which I got out of bed at the time — it was nice to sit and think with my cup of coffee before the horror-show of my life began in earnest. My morning blog post became a kind of sanctuary, and I wrote some good stories. That was surprising.

People who talk, write, and think about “How to become a writer” often say, “Write every day until it becomes a habit.” I’ve had that habit all my life. Writing isn’t usually stressful for me, and when it is, it’s stressful because of where a story is going.

The China project was pretty intense. All those stories (and it’s just the surface) have been waiting for 35+ years. I thought there would be more. Then a moment came and I knew there were a lot of stories I didn’t want to share. The question, not share HERE or not share at all? I don’t know.

The little break or more I feel I need right now is mostly because I feel I need some down time to do/write/think about different things. As long as there’s snow (and there isn’t now, boo hoo hoo) I’m going to be most interested in my skis and that’s one story, “I went out and I skied and I came back home. It’s the best.” The little water colors are mildly consuming and take some time. So, just a break until I have something to say. At the moment, it’s just feeling a little ho-hum. ❤

______________________________

*The featured photo shows the strata of an examined life…

Wander…

Morning came, beautiful and dazzling blue. I awoke fresh and feeling something I had not felt in a very long time. I felt as if I could dance forever on ballerina toes; I felt as if I could fly. Mark was up, washing dishes.

“Good morning!” I sang to him. “How are you?”

“Shut up.”

“I see you’re fine. I’m so glad.”

“Don’t start.”

“I won’t. I don’t feel like fighting any more. I don’t feel like fighting anything. I feel wonderful.”

“You would.”

“Well?

I kissed his cheek, and he pulled back, like a small boy evading a smelly-old aunt. “Oh my, you don’t like me any more. C’est l’amour.”

I was wearing khaki pants and my favorite turquoise shirt, turquoise like the New Mexico sky, like the window frames of New Mexico houses.

“What’s on the agenda today?” I asked, making coffee.

“You leave.”

“Not until evening. Sorry.”

“What time?”

“Plane leaves at 7. I had to stay forty-eight hours. You know that.”

“I know. What do you want to do?”

“I want to go to the Art Institute.”

“You have to go alone.”

“OK.”

“I have to work. Paul left.”

“What do you mean, ‘left’?”

“He’s gone to Colorado to buy boots.”

“Ah. You don’t have boots in Chicago?”

“We sell boots. They’re for the store.”

“Great! I won’t have to spend the whole day in the car.”

“I guess not.”

Mark was not happy. I began to see that he was tired, sad, drained. But then, I’d had no experience in the night with someone. I’d simply slept. I knew very well the hell of our day together, but no idea what had gone on between him and Paul at night, what conversations, fights, discussions. It was none of my business, and I sought no confidences.

“The other thing is, Paul took my car. I have his.”

“So?” 

“Paul’s car won’t make it to the airport.”

“Call me a taxi.”

“You can’t afford it.”

“You can.”

I mixed up some Instant Breakfast and poured my coffee. I guess because Paul was gone or because I was leaving, we began to calm down and to talk sensibly. I walked around the bedroom, finding my things and packing. Mark watched and talked. “What are you going to do?”

“Did I tell you about the foreign service exam?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I passed it. Now I’m waiting to hear where and when I take the oral test.”

“Why do you want to join the Foreign Service?”

“I just want to leave the country.”

“Why?”

“Why not? You’ve lived in France, Italy, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. You’ve left the country, so you know what I mean, or you should know what I mean.”

“I don’t know.”

“I just want exposure, Mark. To see things, know things.”

“Honey, you’ve already seen more of life than 99% of most Americans. It’s not that great to go away.”

“Maybe you’re right, but I don’t know that.”

“I’m telling you.”

“I have to. All my life I’ve wanted to live someplace with a different way of thinking, of doing things. I need to get perspective, experiences. I feel so blind.”

“Well, you’re not blind.”

__________________________________________

From Fledging….

Thank you…

I really appreciate all the care and support while I’ve been having my existential melt down. It helped a lot to write it down, it helped a lot to “hear” what you all had to say, your experiences, your take on it.

It actually helped me figure it out.

Five years ago I saw the handwriting on the wall. My job was being “outsourced” to another department at the university and no one was going to tell us. There were five of us who had 3 year contracts to teach Business Communication. I had a year left. I had every intention of finishing my contact before retiring, but I ended up without the choice. An “under-the-table” deal was made and, since no one went to the union to complain until I did at the last minute, it was, essentially, a fait accompli. But in English. Looking at most of my income gone, I had to retire and leave. OK. Psychologically I was ready. Physically? I was already showing signs of the hip arthritis I had remedied in 2018.

My move to Colorado was great. I’m happy to be back, but it was a little freaky that — though a native — I didn’t know how to live here any more. It all came back, but there was a long period of adjusting both to retirement and life in a very small town I’d only visited once.

This blog helped me a lot as did the one I wrote specially about my move. That blog is gone, but it was good for me to write.

The first thing I did when I moved here was get an Airdyne. I knew I was overweight and in terrible physical condition. I wanted to be able to hike in the mountains and do things I wasn’t able to do. I wasn’t me, but I’d had to work so much the last few years I lived in California that there was nothing in my life but driving, teaching and all the things connected with teaching — grading, prepping, meetings, etc. When I finally moved into my house, the dogs and I began walking on the golf course and going 1/2 mile was difficult for me (and for Mindy T. Dog ❤ ) but we got better. The Airdyne was good, I did get in better shape, I was able to do yoga again (meaning getting down onto and up from the floor) and I did lose a little weight.

Still, the struggle to regain my body took so much longer than I imagined it could. I didn’t even realize until the end of 2017 WHAT my mobility problem was. Then came the search for a surgeon.

Meanwhile, I wrote. I arrived in Colorado with a work in progress, The Brothers Path. In 2017 I finished an important book — My Everest which is about my time in California hiking with my dogs. It was a total labor of love to put that book together. Then I sucked it up and finished The Price which was very difficult to write for numerous reasons I’ve already written about. The surgery worked and my pre-op training and post-op training have returned to me a body with abilities I haven’t had in a decade. I still can’t run. Maybe I won’t ever run — I do try, though.

I’m grateful and lucky. But at this point in time there is also the feeling that another shoe WILL fall. I will be 67 this coming Monday.

We always say we want to have no regrets, but I don’t think anyone can reach this point in life without regrets. I’m surprised at what mine are. I wrote about that, and last night a friend said, “Lots of people say they want to write books but they never do. You’ve written 3 (actually 6 1/2 but who’s counting?)…can’t you look at writing them the way you look at all your hikes? You never thought about point B; you just went.” He is absolutely right. That’s exactly how I can look at my books and writing itself. Everything, maybe.

This morning I read Cara Sue Achterberg’s blog post, on “My Life in Paragraphs.” She writes about how she and her husband are figuring out together what they want the next step in their lives to be. They’re about to be “empty-nesters” and they’re addressing this question with colored Post-It Notes on which they each write something they want in their future or want their future to be. Cara ultimately asks, “What do you want?” and my first thought was, “A marriage like yours, but that ship has sailed.” ❤

As I read, I thought about the different transitions — the late-40’s transition and the late-60’s transition. I didn’t notice the late 40’s one because the usual late 40’s physical stuff happened to me a lot earlier. Looking back, the time between 47 and 54 were really great years for me and, thankfully, most of the time I knew it. Physical debility and a bad love relationship set the “tone” for the next decade, neither of which I could possibly have seen coming. I thought, “I had the house I wanted. I lived in the mountains. I had great dogs. I hiked with awesome human companions, too. I had the job I wanted. I had all I wanted and then…”

It’s always a balancing act between what we want and what we get, I guess.

Yesterday I wanted Cross Country Skis. I texted the local outdoor store — Kristi Mountain Sports — and asked the appropriate questions. Today I got an answer. As it happens, I had written things down on a Post-It note.


Basically, what Kristi Mountain Sports has for sale is exactly what I want.

Today I want $550. It’s right there! It’s even on a Post-It Note! 😀 But I also want to know that if I buy the skis (which means more debt until the tax refund) I’ll actually use them. I have this big white dog and she doesn’t ski.

Anyway, I realized that I if I were to continue with the Post-It Notes, that what I want is a new adventure. I feel a little nervous even saying that — let alone committing it to an actual Post-It Note — because the universe might go, “You want adventure? Ha! I’ll give you adventure.” No, universe, this time let me find my own. ❤

Showing and Telling

Funny that the word “persist” turns up as the prompt today. I’ve been looking at the work in progress wondering, “What next?” One direction and it’s a book I’ve already written. The other direction?” Something else completely. 

The only reason to write a story is because you want to. I guess there are people who make a lot of money from the stories they write, but I’m not one of them. 

One of the questions I ask myself when I’m writing is “How do I want to tell this?” With historical fiction, that’s kind of tricky. People reading the story don’t live in that historical world. People in the story do. For me there’s a fine line between offering the reader enough to see and feel that alien world and making it alien to the characters, too.

How much do we really notice about our world in the course of a day? When we walk through our house do we say to ourselves, “She passed the dishwasher then the beige and white cupboards on her way to the backdoor where the 85 pound black short-haired dog and the 75 pound long-haired white dog with the blue eyes were waiting to be let out,”

or do we say (in real life),

“Hang on, guys,” she said opening the back door. “It’s cold out there.”

I think a LOT about how my characters live and function in their world, probably more than I think about anyone reading my books. 

A lot of this hinges on the “Show don’t tell” philosophy. I’ve been aware of that since college. I remember it used to describe the way Hemingway wrote as the quality that set him apart from other writers and disturbed readers back in the day. Godnose he’s no Dickens. He wrote non-action narrative like this (from A Movable Feast):

I remember reading this book years ago and thinking it was fantastic. I still think so, but not for this “show don’t tell” thing, but because of Hemingway’s yearning nostalgia and the innumerable cafe au laits

A show-don’t-tell instruction website gives this example:

Telling: When they embraced she could tell he had been smoking and was scared.

Showing: When she wrapped her arms around him, the sweet staleness of tobacco enveloped her, and he was shivering.

I don’t think these two little passages say the same thing. How would I write it? I decided to give it a shot. 

His jacket stank of cigarette smoke. She stepped back from their embrace, frightened. “Where have you been?”

Anyway, the first example is grammatically confusing. Who’s scared? She or he? I thought she was scared, but reading it again it seemed it could have been either of them. 

I realized that I’m not sure about this “show don’t tell” stuff or what it actually means any more. It’s far more “Dickensian” now than in Hemingway’s fiction which is very spare and leaves a lot to the reader. It’s like this, from “The Snows of Kilimanjaro:”

THE MARVELLOUS THING IS THAT IT’S painless,” he said. “That’s how you know when it starts.”

“Is it really?”

“Absolutely. I’m awfully sorry about the odor though. That must bother you.”

“Don’t! Please don’t.”

“Look at them,” he said. “Now is it sight or is it scent that brings them like that?”

The cot the man lay on was in the wide shade of a mimosa tree and as he looked out past the shade onto the glare of the plain there were three of the big birds squatted obscenely, while in the sky a dozen more sailed, making quick-moving shadows as they passed.

“I’m only talking,” he said. “It’s much easier if I talk. But I don’t want to bother you.”

“You know it doesn’t bother me,” she said. “It’s that I’ve gotten so very nervous not being able to do anything. I think we might make it as easy as we can until the plane comes.”

“Or until the plane doesn’t come.”

To me that’s showing, not telling and I like it. No one has a CLUE what’s going on with these people, who they are, where they are, what they look like. They are absolutely engrossed in the imperatives of their moment, as are living people. We don’t know the big birds are vultures. We don’t know squat, and why should we? It’s not us, not our lives, not our situation. Hemingway just opened a window on a random couple having a rather banal sounding conversation, but like conversations between couples in real life, it’s anything but banal.

As a reader, I like that kind of “here we are suddenly in the middle of someone’s real life” narrative. I also like Icelandic sagas which are all tell and poetry.

It’s been my struggle as a writer since the beginning, but I think I’ll persist

Because, fuck it. It keeps me off the streets. 

Here’s a song about persistence. 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/rdp-sunday-persist/

Work in Progress

Apprentice

“Go get him, Brother Benedetto. He must be thirteen or fourteen by now. Older?”

“How am I to get him, Father?”

“Just go to San Zeno and tell them you need a bright boy to train as an apprentice. Maybe there will be six or seven boys to choose from. When was he born?”

“Fifteen years gone now.”

“It’s past time if you’re to teach him. Ask to see the boys who are the right age. For that matter, I am sure they keep records of where the children come from and when they came in.”

Brother Benedetto sighed. He wanted his son near him. He’d longed for that, the chance to teach his boy everything he knew, but now the moment was upon him, he was filled with doubt. It was strange enough he had a son and that son had been raised in the same place he had. “Life is a labyrinth,” he thought, again. 

“You’re not sure, Brother?”

“No, no, it’s all-right, Father. What if he’s no good? What if he’s simple-minded, has no interest?”

“He’s still your boy.”

“That’s so,” nodded Brother Benedetto. 

“Maybe he will not have a religious vocation. He’ll need a trade. There’s work for bad painters as well as good ones. Work for painters’ helpers. He will need a future.” 

“How do I start?”

“I’ll write a letter to the abbott at San Zeno and let them know you’re coming with my authorization. You have a big job here and any help is help, or am I wrong?”

“No, Father, you’re right. If the boy is nothing but a mule he can still carry things.”

Va bene.”

The Abbott sent the letter, and a week or so later they invited Brother Benedetto to come and meet the orphaned boys of appropriate age. There were three. One stood out to Brother Benedetto, an average sized boy with green eyes and black curls that dropped over his forehead. “The abbott was right,” he thought, his breast on fire. He’d never though to see those eyes again.

“That boy. What’s his name?”

“Michele. Came to us on the feast of San Michele. Come, my son.” Michele stepped forward. The other boys kept their heads bowed.

“How old are you, Michele?” asked Brother Benedetto.

“Fifteen next month,” he said. 

“Would you like to be a painter?”

Michele looked the older man in the eye for a moment, then dropped his gaze. Who was this man? Bringing him his dreams? “How?”

“Brother Benedetto is a painter, my son. He’s in search of an apprentice.”

“Yes. I would like to be a painter,” Michele replied. He almost whispered, but to his ears, his voice echoed in the empty corridor. 

“Can you draw?”

Michele’s face was red. He drew all the time. He drew everything. He sneaked out of the dormitory to watch artists painting on the street. He drew in charcoal on the pavement. He’d haunted the cathedral sanctuary watching the frescoes emerge from the plaster walls. He’d offered his help to the workmen who’d set him to carrying buckets of water, sand and plaster, cleaning tools. But how should he answer this man? It was prideful to say, “Yes.” Dishonest to say, “No.”

“He can draw,” said the monk, saving Michele from the embarrassment of answering. “You have chosen the right boy.”

“I know,” said Brother Benedetto softly, a catch in his voice. 

“Get your things, Michele. You’re going with Brother Benedetto. You will be his apprentice. You must follow his instructions faithfully, serve him well, learn his trade. In time you will join the Franciscans and serve the Lord as a painter.”

Michele looked at Brother Benedetto’s dark brown robe and cowl. “So be it,” he thought. “If that’s what it takes.” 

***

Fumbling around with a new story that is sometimes fun, sometimes difficult, but always exactly what I want to write. 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/rdp-thursday-fumble/

Time and Tide

The Goliard novel I’ve begun is as fun to write as The Price wasn’t, at least so far. One of my struggles with The Price was tied to our times. The more I researched into what happened during the mid-18th century great migration to America, the more troubling it all was and the more I feared drifting into an irrelevant polemic about slanted history. 

Primary sources can be harsh, but they reveal worlds, and the commentary in our (often politicized) history books can be insipid. I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t despise Christopher Columbus. He was a man of his time, and the times were awful. Maybe he was even better than average. I don’t know if it’s possible to write history without bias but boy, what a wonderful world it would be if that could happen.

History is messy, messier than most of us realize until we are obliged to dig into it. I think that’s how it should be. Our progenitors did not mean for us to live in their world but in our own. They consistently hoped our time would be better than theirs. Even I, looking back at the little bit of history I’ve lived through, hope many of those things don’t return. The future will have its own troubles without carrying the old ones forward with them. (Hey, coterie of anti-vaxers? I’m talking to you. Vaccinate your kids, for the love of god.)

Anyhoo, I don’t where this blog post is going, so… 


https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/rdp-wednesday-coterie/

Love Songs

This is the first time in decades I don’t have a story to work on. What I thought might be a good idea is looking more and more doubtful. I’ve been reading about and in the work of the Goliards and it’s — they — are notable for being priests who wrote love songs. 

Whoop-dee-do. And songs about drinking, the corruption of the church, the absurdity of doctrine, and poverty. But mostly love songs. Sometimes naughty love, but love. And if you’re a priest, is there any other kind of love? Maybe these are not my people. 

Sixty-two years ago when some crooner was crooning on the radio in the family kitchen, I asked my dad, “Why do they sing about love all the time?”

My dad gave me a startled look, like, “She’s only four, WTF?” then said, “Because love is the greatest thing in the world.”

“Why?”

“Helen, can I have a little more coffee?” 

Way to change the subject, Dad.

I’m not convinced that romantic love is the greatest thing in the world. There are lots of other really great things like the range, horses named Old Paint, exploration, adventure, art, and nature. It’s true there are a few anti-love songs, but love is still the main subject.  

One of the things I’ve always liked about Punk Rock is that while there are love songs, there are songs about other things. The more hard-core the Punk, the less likely there is to be a love song. It’s awesome. Often, when a Punk band sings about love, it’s not sappy love but something else. The Dead Kennedys’ best love song is “Too Drunk to Fuck.” Sorry, but there it is. Realistic, funny and ironic. 

I’ve been listening to The Pretenders a lot lately, and Chrissie Hynde has a few sappy love songs, but her love songs are mostly not. 

“I wanna do it, do it on the pavement.” That is not sappy.

Anyhoo…. Since I find all this love song stuff de-inspiring, I don’t know what’s up next. I’m not anti-love or bitter on the subject. I congratulate — and have deep respect for —  all of you who found your great love and are busy living happily ever after. That just isn’t my story. 

But why?

The model in front of me growing up wasn’t particularly happy, that’s one thing, probably, then I never wanted kids. I wanted adventure. For a while I thought a boyfriend or husband would also want adventure, and we’d go off into the world adventuring, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Even the most adventurous men I knew longed for wife and family, the ties that guys like in the movie K2 struggle against. Except one. He wanted adventure more than wife and family, and I think his romantic life has gone pretty much like mine. There is a kind of love between us, maybe a shared love of mountains, adventure and words, mutual esteem. Anyway, I treasure it, maybe partly because it’s love that doesn’t show up in love songs. 

In any case, I wonder what the protagonist will do so that I can write his story? I see him influenced by Goliard love songs, in a moment of heated passion impregnating a girl, then facing the betrayal of romance, thrown out of his monastery, sent wandering over the Alps to teach Martin to paint and then in his own Paul on the Road to Damascus moment realizing there is no better lover than art and returning to the monastery, seeing it as his best bet for a life as an artist. Maybe he’ll go that way. 

Ars longa, labilis est dilectio