Well, I am slogging through An Ill Wind, with its convoluted WWII references that I can no longer ask my grandfather about. There are some interesting bits, mostly about a British RAF post in the middle of nowhere, North Africa. There are many words I will need to research: Hurricanes (which I gather is a type of plane), pinnace, topis, trots (some type of body of water), Mammy palaver, Nissen, kites to name a few. Some of the flashbacks take place somewhere in England, but it is not clear where.
I have also come to realize that it is not a memoir, but rather a fictional work, apparently about a young British Commanding Officer named Amos Pritchard, who is not quite of the right class, but has managed to become a Commanding Officer despite this. Its an interesting look into the working mind of my grandfather who was very much a recluse, the type of man who would retire to his library whenever the grandchildren came for a visit. My memories of him were usually around the dining room table during lunch while he engaged the family in what I thought were thoroughly boring political conversations. Us kids usually escaped to the TV room, or the sewing room, my grandmother’s sanctuaries, full of treasures and crafts. But I do remember that whenever we came, my grandfather always made sure the house was stocked with my favorite “red pop” (cream soda), which I think was his excuse to indulge as well. Until now, red pop was our common link.
I met today with the head of the MFA, Creative Writing program at the University of Washington. The thought of obtaining my Masters is finally taking shape, though I can’t help wondering if I am doing this thing backwards. I already have published a book after all. But I feel I have a lot still to learn in the realm of writing, and I long for the community that a two-year, on-site program would give me. Writing is lonely business and its difficult sometimes to keep myself challenged. I long for more people in my life, new friends, a community, something that in these gray winter days I feel myself missing.
I find when you are alone, and writing in a vacuum, it is easy to lose perspective, and those little gremlin voices come out in those quiet moments to offer their doubts. There are little seeds of ideas rattling around inside my brain, hopefully germinating and growing, but I still find it is too soon to fully express them. That said, I did finally finish the essay, and it was reviewed by my friend Lindsay Ahl (a fellow author), who advised that I send it out. So I did. It is now in the hands of Daniel Jones of the Modern Love column in the New York Times. Its a long shot, but a good starting point.
I wonder if, despite my grandfather reclusivness, he was lonely too. I marvel at the extent of his book, all based on experiences that happened 40 years before he actually sat down to write (which I am guessing to be sometime in the mid 80s). I wonder how long he ruminated with his own seedlings of ideas. If he had others reading his work. There is so much now I wish I could ask him. I wonder if he were alive today, whether he might have extended me an invitation to the inner sanctum of his library. As it turns out, we shared more in common than just a love of red pop.