Thursday, December 5, 2013
Well, here we go again, this time I had left the group for a year. If you remember, I had a blowup session one night at the group with one of the members. When I left, I figured that was it. I would never write again. The novel was over. The dream was over. The novel was a stupid idea and too hard. Writing a novel was way over my head and clearly the group was right, I didn’t have the skill for it. The only thing I used the computer for during the next six months was for playing solitaire.
While Keith Krulik wasn’t a pleasant person to be around in general during those years, believe me, that particular year was no picnic for my wife. My anger and depression reached new lows. The guy who thought himself a failure anyway, now thought himself as a complete waste of flesh and blood. Six months of self-pity wasn’t good.
Then little things began to happen. If you’re married, you understand these things. My wife Lana started it with little nudges. She does these little “nudges” using hammers usually. She would look at me in the evening sulking in my chair and say, “Cut it out and finish that damn book.” I’d look at her and say something witty like, “Shut the hell up.” Yes, those were such loving, in-depth conversations we had. She kept at it with me, kept digging because she knew it was what I needed to do, what I wanted to do. “Get up off your ass and go back to the group.”
At the same time, David was sending me e-mails about once a month after about the 5 month mark. Nice gentle ones, saying, “Hi, we miss you.” What an asshole. I was getting it from two sides.
After about the nine month mark, Lana hit me again. I remember one evening well because I was feeling good that night. She looked over at me and said, “I want to talk to you about your book.” I immediately hung my head. I felt like a French soldier and wanted to just lay down my rifle and raise my hands in surrender right then. “What hurts you worse, the pain in your head or the pain the group dishes out?” (She really needs to join the group. They have nothing on her.) I didn’t answer. I thought about what she said for days.
It wasn’t long before I began to read my manuscript from start to finish, studying it. I read it with the voices of the man and the woman who drove me away yelling in my ear. The very second they stopped yelling at me, Lana was yelling at me. For me, it came to down to what was more important. Am I more willing to endure some words for three hours twice a month to make my novel better, or was I willing to put it away and wonder the rest of my life? What would be more painful to me? What was scarier? What I was physically living with each day was far worse than anything that group could throw at me. My skin became thicker instantly.
I came back to the group, obviously. I never left it again. The important thing is for all of you and me to remember is this, no one can hurt me with words again. No one. I look forward to every session and every critique now. The two people who drove me away I see regularly at the Writer’s Center. They are not enemies of mine. Those two people did as much for me as anyone in getting my novel completed. Do I think they owe me an apology? Yes. Have they ever given me one? No. I don’t expect it. They gave me a gift.
When we write, we reach deep in our souls, find words, say things in ways we would not tell people close to us. We write alone, solitary. We write a project, however, as a team. We cannot do it alone. There is no way I could have done The Zealot without the group, my wonderful wife and best friend of thirty-two years, and yes, no way I could have done it without the two people who drove me away for a combined time of a year and a half. They gave me extra skin and guts to get it done.
Next time we get back to the story and the group.