“Long Time Out”
September 29, 2022 was the last time I published a “My 3 Cents.” I suppose so much has happened over time, but like the daily news which I watched religiously for years and the Sunday New York Times which was a guilty pleasure, memories fade. I had to scroll down my file to locate the first time I wrote this column and realized that I have been writing “My 3 Cents” since April 2016.
What else have I written in the last seven years? I finished “Six Letters,” a novella, continued working on “Into the Wind” (a play that’s been a part of my life for the last twenty years), wrote “A Decision Forever,” a One Act play that was successfully produced by Olympic Theatre Arts, performed a brief reading at Seattle Rep for a writer’s conference, and started co-writing a non-fiction work that is still in progress, but dormant for the moment. An ardent believer in the art of letter writing, I have supported the postal service by sending countless missives to friends and family.
But…..for the last six weeks, and the first time since I left Los Angeles and the film industry, I have stepped away from the computer. It was a test. What do people do when they retire? It’s a word/situation I’ve never considered. Why would a writer retire? It’s not like we’re athletes past our prime or a prima ballerina relegated to a mirrored studio with tiny tots in leotards imitating her.
At one time I taught classes and emphasized that the writing process occurs in three steps:
Step 1. The actual writing. A solitary endeavor where one’s imagination runs free, where adventure and excitement are at your fingertips.
Step 2. After many rewrites, sharing work with a select few. Other writers and trusted friends are best. Spouses tend to placate. (After all, they do want to sleep with you. It’s their job to be supportive, not necessarily critical.)
Step 3. Venturing into the publishing world. The alternative is to print a hard copy and tuck it away in a drawer.
Have the constant rejections caught up with me? Ah, yeah. I have had success publishing short stories, mostly for no money, but the submitting process is discouraging.
Unlike many who bemoaned the isolation of Covid, I found hibernation, in a strange way, comforting. Spending time in my office (with Zora close by) is still my idea of a great day. The last weeks of not writing are of my choosing, and for lack of a better term my “voluntary retirement” is puzzling. Should I jump into the process with Step 1 as my sole goal? Damn if I know.
We leave tomorrow for a week in Portugal. Books and cameras packed. No laptop. Maybe after a week of experiencing a different world, I can once again approach the three steps with enthusiasm. We’ll see.
One of the many musical mantras playing on a loop in my head. “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This.”*
*Sweet Charity is a musical with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields.