It has been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been in a funk; I knew this would happen eventually. Though I still believe closing the gallery was the right decision, I miss my customers/friends, and I miss spending my days playing with art. (Okay, I miss having an income, too–small though it was.)
I’ve been trying to embrace the space between, but it doesn’t come easily to me. Every attempt at creativity (i.e. knitting, felting, writing) has been a struggle. When all else fails, I read, only to reminded why I am not a novelist as much as I have always wanted to be one. I can set a scene, create a mood, develop a character … but I can’t tell a story.
Right now I’m reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. This novel has surprised and delighted me on so many levels. It is the story of an old(ish) man who decides to walk the length of England to visit a former colleague, who is in hospice. He believes that as long as he keeps walking, she won’t die. When I first heard about this book, I thought,” How do people come up with stuff like this? My brain just doesn’t work that way!” Come to think of it, I often have that reaction to things I read. Anyhow, as is the case in really good fiction, Harold’s physical journey is secondary to his spiritual one: the plot is simply the vehicle for self-realization and social criticism.
I say “simply,” but it’s not simple at all. Plot is what keeps us reading. Without it you’re driving with a flat tire. Spinning your wheels, going nowhere. Writing poems comes naturally to me; writing fiction does not. I can’t make myself a novelist any more than I can make myself a painter or pianist.
I used to say I opened the gallery because I am an artist “wannabe” and it was the next best thing. It was probably the same impulse that motivated me to open a bookstore before that, and get a doctorate in English literature before that. I’m a novelist wannabe. At some point (um, age 54?) we have to acknowledge that some things are just not in the cards or part of the pilgrimage. We have to accept our limitations and let go. I think that is what this past month has been about, for me. Time to quit forcing the plot and just turn the page.