All she wrote

Fairie nookI have been writing fiction more or less seriously since I was sixteen. Oh, I did other things. I got as far as ABD for a PhD in Neoclassical History before a little foray into the seductive world of Marian visions turned into the proverbial garden path and, utterly obsessed, I abandoned my nearly completed studies for a novel that has only just been finished forty years later.

That was a bone-headed move.

I raised children who grew up to be pretty amazing despite my being a very flawed mother. I took a day job, at which I still work, though no longer full time. I rose at 5:30 in the morning so as to gain some writing time before work. I wrote after work. I wrote in fits and starts and bits and pieces and, in this way, managed to publish two collections of short stories, four novels and numerous short stories, including some that were published in quite prestigious magazines and anthologized in best-of publications. I won some prizes, got some good reviews, and made nobody, especially myself, much in the way of money. There are, at present, two novels yet to be “sold”. I am hopeful, but I’ve been at this too long to be overly sanguine about my prospects.

And that’s it. All she wrote.

So what I’m trying to figure out now is: what do I do next? I have been writing this blog for some years now, turning myself inside out like a pocket and shaking out all the loose change and lint-furred hard candies and half-crumbled Milkbone mini biscuits and biodegradable poop bags. There’s not much left that I have not at some point touched on and now I just seem to be getting cranky. So before I start CAPITALIZING EVERY DAMN THING, I think I’m going to stop and do . . . what?

I don’t know.

My father, William Hardy, published seven novels and then . . . that was it. In his later years he began a novel entitled Harry, the Dog That Bit Me, the story of a man saved by a dog, in a way his life’s story. It’s perhaps two chapters long and charming. At the age of 93 he still expresses wistfulness about not having finished it and has several times suggested that I take up his mantle. But I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Our voices are very different and it’s not my story.

For my entire adult life I have drawn up a daily To Do List, on which Write has always prominently figured; Write refers to novel, short story or blog – whatever’s on the boards. Shall I now drop that from the list? What will I do in the howling vortex created by its omission? Am I really written out? Not Writer’s Block but Writer’s Barren Wasteland? I don’t know. I guess I’m about to find out.

So this is it for this blog. At least for now. Or maybe not. After all, I have been known to change my mind.

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