Saturday, May 25, 2019

A Stretch Of Quiet

     No doubt the regular Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch have noticed that things have been a trifle static here for the past few days. One of my reasons for encouraging various other commentators to join me here as Co-Conspirators was to avoid such a stretch of stagnancy. By and large the tactic has worked well; when one of us was otherwise occupied, the others would still be contributing. But as any sports fanatic can tell you, there will be days when all the games are interrupted by commercials simultaneously, and there is nothing to be done about it.

     Just now Linda Fox is in Cleveland. Colonel Bunny is busy with private matters. Mike Hendrix appears to be focused elsewhere. We haven’t heard from Scott Angell or Patrice Stanton in a dog’s age. And I, who’ve been Mr. Essay-A-Day for something like twenty years, have been fixated upon completing Novel #14, to be titled The Wise and the Mad.

     The final stages of a novel-project always drain me dry. The sense of having shot every round in my arsenal, with the concomitant need to sit back a while, “rearm and reload,” is difficult to countervail. While I can’t speak for others, it’s part of the price this novelist pays for his antisocial habit. Lawrence Block once compared it to finishing a marathon. Few persons who reach the finish line immediately start lifting weights or doing calisthenics.

     To be somewhat more concise, writing is hard work, at least for those of us who take it seriously. The fatigue it can induce is as serious as the social, cultural or political events and trends upon which it’s focused – and such things are the only inducements to composition that can animate me.

     So, with the very recent completion of the aforementioned novel, I decided to “kick back” for a few days: to pen the occasional funny piece or brief personal reflection, but to let the “little gray cells” (Agatha Christie) have some time to relax and recuperate.

     Times of repose are not necessarily times of idleness. Some of the very best relaxation comes not from sitting still but from switching tracks. In my case, that can mean anything from hopping into Joy, my red 2009 Corvette convertible, lowering the top, and zooming around New York in a totally frivolous, expensive, and unproductive manner, to rereading the collected works of Herbert Spencer, to meditating at length upon matters of faith and the spirit.

     I’ve spent much of the past few days doing something no one who knows me at all well would expect from me: redecorating my home. When I first moved in here thirty-nine years ago, the Fortress of Crankitude was a pretty Spartan place. I had very little furniture, few “creature comforts,” and little inclination to think about esthetic factors. I was spending about sixty hours a week at my day job, and the Fortress itself needed too much work for me to spend time on irrelevancies. I was kept hopping just from the work involved in earning a living and keeping the roof over my head...well…over my head.

     Time brings changes. Today I no longer work for wages. I spend most of my time at home. That has elicited a desire to make that home as pleasant and convenient as possible, short of hiring a fleet of servants. But I’ve delegated the heavy stuff to a handful of professional contractors. That leaves me time to gussy up the place in smaller ways.

     Of course, some of the seemingly smaller ways can come with large price tags. $6000 to build Beth the office of her dreams. $3100 for a lighting system. $2000 for having the living room floor refinished and stained a beautiful dark walnut. $5200 for a new leather sectional. And here’s the latest absurdity:

     Hey, we have an empty corner in our newly refinished and refurnished living room! I have to fill it with something! (Beth originally suggested a “bar globe” that you can keep whiskey bottles in, but we eventually decided that would be tacky.)

     The Fortress is approaching a state in which no further improvement is conceivable. I suppose when that point is reached, I’ll have to sell it and move.

     Anyway: Yes, I’m okay. Yes, there will be a return to normal levels of dynamism here at Liberty’s Torch. No, that won’t occur right away. I need a day or two more to recharge, to fiddle with the placement of furniture and tchotchkes, and to think about Life, the Universe, and what major fiction challenge to tackle next. But you shouldn’t worry. Unlike this celebrated bird:

     …I really am just resting. I’m sure Linda, the Colonel, et alii will also be back in due course.

     Be well. Be free and happy. And keep the faith. Remember: it might be even money that the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train, but that means it’s even money that it’s not, too. So look on the bright side. Until you get run over, at least.


Kye said...

Have a healthy Memorial Day weekend. Make noise and blow things up. It irritates the lefties.

Unknown said...

Having just had cataract lens replacement I was finally able to finish a couple of your books - Love in the Time Of Cinema impressed me with your ability to 'present' characters and the Spooner Federation books 1 & 2 show the same dedication to character development amongst other plot points. I read you daily (as in 'top of my list') and would like to wish you well.

Blowing things up sounds cathartic of course!
Including those who think amongst is not valid)

Col. B. Bunny said...

The Colonel is back, Fran. I attended a most pleasant wedding of a grandniece. Always a joy to see my relatives.