The End of a Streak

The end of the streak started with Pico de Gallo.  No, I’m not referring to the Warriors succumbing to the Bucks in Milwaukee.  That’s another subject entirely. No, as you’ve already guessed,  I’m referring to my writing. After committing words to page for my novel for more than six weeks, from November 1st to December 14th, things came to a full stop.  They would have come to a full stop earlier, but I was stubborn, and wanted to keep the streak alive, no matter what that meant.  On a few nights, that meant continuing work on my narrative as late night moved into morning.  On other days, that meant plugging in 100 words between other responsibilities and calling it a day.  If only nominally, I was writing every day.  Since December 14th, I have committed plenty of words to page, but not a single word toward my novel.

Things have been really busy at work, but that hasn’t influenced my writing much; aside from several nights (including three or four in a row during one stretch) that I left work around or even later than 8pm, I’ve still been able to commit words to page before 9pm on most nights.  The real problem, which has stood in the way of many things on top of my writing, is that my family lost its patriarch on December 9th; it has been difficult for me to grieve, even as I put together his eulogy and delivered it to an audience of friends and relatives.  At times, it seems like I have all of the time in the world, but it has still been difficult to recover from the shock of such a sudden loss.  What had started out as an ER trip due to a back injury had developed many other complications.  After just over a month of being in and out of the hospital, my grandfather passed away on a Wednesday morning.

I had been back and forth across the state for much of that time, visiting him in one hospital, a convalescent home, and then another hospital, always hopeful that he would recover.  For that reason, I never said goodbye; it was always ‘take care of yourself’ or ‘see you soon,’ but never ‘goodbye.’  The night that I heard of my grandfather’s death, I was sitting on the couch, much as I am doing now.  I had just come home from work; it was 7:36pm, and I’d been home just long enough to clean a potato and plop it in the microwave.  My wife had a dinner engagement, leaving me, tired from the work day, to make a meal for one.  I had powered up my computer, and committed to writing Christmas cards for the evening; while I was waiting for my computer to run through its startup routine, and my microwave to beep, I pulled out the fixings that I’d had in mind.  I included the remaining pico de gallo that we’d taken from a taqueria near Grandpa’s hospital. It was the memory of where I’d last used that pico de gallo (in a hospital courtyard) reminded me to call my parents, who had diligently stayed at my grandfather’s bedside.

I opened my mouth, saying the usual ‘how are things?’ and was met with a ‘not good. Grandpa died this morning.’  The details of the conversation escape me, and are probably not for public consumption as it is, but I heard of the circumstances of his death, how it happened, what the symptoms looked like, and who was there with him as he drew his last breath.  And to think, the chain of events (at least for the evening) that put me in such a state included looking at pico de gallo and remembering where I’d had it last.

After the conversation and perhaps the worst dinner of my life, and before I had a chance to break the news to my wife, I sat down to work on Christmas cards.  One of the first names on our list was my grandfather.  Nary a card was written that evening.  I didn’t pull up my Word document and write in my novel, either.  Instead, I began watching a combination of Let’s Plays and Star Trek: Voyager episodes – and I don’t even particularly like that show.

I was asked if I wanted to write a eulogy for my grandfather.  Of course, I did; it was my way of honoring his life, as well as handling my own grief – or so I thought. After work, for several evenings, I started fleshing out Grandpa’s eulogy.  It came in fits and starts.  There were so many false starts that the written eulogy includes multiple paragraphs that never made it into what was said.  The eulogy was long for a family member’s contribution, clocking in at around 1,500 words, and I almost didn’t make it through its recitation.  I feel much better for having delivered it; however, through all of the confusion and emotion, I’ve realized that I still haven’t said ‘goodbye.’

Today, five days before Christmas and three since I delivered my grandfather’s eulogy, I am again ready to write in the novel.  I haven’t yet, as I have been going back and forth between Let’s Plays, random websites, and reading Jason Halstead’s Vitalis, but I will be back on track, and hope that all of the progress that I made during my sixth winning NaNoWriMo will lead to a completed work, and that this will be one of many that I publish during my lifetime.

***

On an unrelated note, I have recently been in contact with a former professor of mine.  I had this professor for multiple classes.  He was my advisor, as well as a professor that stimulated my intellectual curiosity in a way that few professors did.  Instead of saying ‘you’re wrong,’ which some professors did even when it was just a matter of voicing one’s opinion, he would always want to explore things.  I remember botching a paper that I wrote for him (in part because of a difference of opinion between what constituted poetry set to music and what constituted a song), and his still giving me a decent grade due to the argument that I set forth and how I approached the ‘text.’  He said the note touched his heart.  It was the least that I could do for a man who’d shaped my college experience for the better.

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One Response to “The End of a Streak”

  1. Eamon Says:

    Your grandfather had a lot of things to be proud of, not the least of which was his grandson. This was a really nice tribute, as I’m sure his eulogy was as well.

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