More sunny weather and I'm moving into a new writing studio built on the footprint of an old cabin in our yard. This has a proper foundation and a roof. This has a floor and a furnace. This has fine windows and insulation. This space comes without mildew or mice. The old place had it's lore, many an unhappy newly single person got back on their feet there. Many happy people had their first adventures there. Now it's a a place for my own adventures. My guitars, are here and even my oldest computers, my Apple IIc is here with the six inch floppy discs containing my old journals and a novel I don't even remember are here. Jan insisted on building me this space, maybe to indulge me... maybe to give us more room in our small house, whatever, it's beautiful and she is wonderfully generous.
I'm starting off moving in and going through my old papers and throwing things away. I've decided to only keep one manuscript each of my old books. All my old cases except the ones of historical value must go. Some thirty years of criminal investigations into the fire pit. Old investment portfolios through several down turns... out out out.... and yellow pads with terrible poetry obscured with mold must go. I'm sorry the flames must keep you.
But the photos, I will keep, and most of the books, and all of the journals. Somehow most of them trigger memories like embers banked deep down in the ashes. Then there is the occasional note, then there is a letter I can't let go of. and I end up wasting an afternoon reading when I should be throwing away. but yet. I threw an entire wheel barrow away in only an afternoon. When I thought I had already winnowed it down.
Sentimentality is the curse of the serious writer. J.D. Salinger described sentimentality as "loving something more than God had loved it." The example he used is the kitten is perfectly fine but the bright pink bow is just too much. I suppose another way to put it is that your characters have to earn our respect, they have to earn our tears, we can't just cry for them because we are told to. We have to know the characters stories to know their feelings.
I'm not going to tell you all these peoples stories. In that sense this blog post is purely sentimental. But I don't think it's a waste of time for my readers. In a sense this blog is a little walk back stage in my imagination. These pictures many of them are the composites of my characters. Clearly they are Cecil Younger's family. That I know is true, and Cecil's family is here clear as day, and so am I, of course. All my friends who helped me write these books, many are not pictured here (many, many are not pictured here) but many are. Drunks some of them. Dead some of them. Saints and criminals. I wouldn't have traded any of their love and kindness.
Writing is such a self indulgent business. In August, I plan to retire from my work with the State of Alaska, I will be writing more, I will be with Jan more. I will be at my own desk more and I can't believe I will have this whole space to myself . I will have all these ghosts to keep me company. What a lucky, lucky man I've become.