Good morning (again) from upstate New York’s chilly (24F/ -4C overnight) Catskills:
Days from publication, I was re-reading parts of Distances in paperback last night. (I’m not entirely sure why: I’m not changing anything at this point!) As I’ve said before, I do find there is some intangible difference between following a novel on paper as opposed to on a screen. A paperback is a better read in some ways, while the ebook is in others, and I have found that again.
Having done it three times now, I find wrapping up a novel to be an emotional letdown as well. It marks an end of a long journey. There was a time that there was NOTHING on the page, and that seems such a long time ago now.
As you may know, this blog has been the center of my authoring universe since my very first post back in (what seems so long ago) 2013. I’m only (again) starting to come to grips with my official Facebook page, which has been up a few months. Up to now, Facebook has really been mostly just an extension of this blog:
I’m visiting briefly with Dad again – after driving down from the Catskills here to the Poconos in Pennsylvania, 2 and 1/2 hours away. Last night, he was having a snooze in front of the television. When he sleeps, I don’t disturb him. (Understandably, he’s often miserable and stressed since Mom’s death.)
Earlier, a commenter on a several months’ old post on here got me to thinking. So with Dad sleeping, I thought why not FINALLY figure out how to “Like” Facebook pages from my Facebook author page?
I received an encouraging and sympathetic email recently from the woman who forms the character basis for “Mrs. Hall-Surrey” – and had laughed aloud when she first “spotted” herself (and her husband) on the pages in Frontiers. (“The little so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!”) I wrote her back that I was relieved I had essentially finished Distances before my uncle’s death and my Mom’s terminal cancer diagnosis. Had I not, I don’t know I would have been able to summon up the mental strength to have done so anytime soon.
Naturally I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline. However, as I’d written here a couple of weeks ago, some of what’s in it is shockingly prescient and unexpectedly relevant to where I find myself in my life right now. Frankly, I can’t believe the number of similar touchpoints.
With publication just days away, time again for the dedication.
Recently on About.me, a man who identified himself as a “ghostwriter” viewed my profile. I’m not in need of one of those. Nevertheless, it prompted me to think on what “ghostwriting” means in terms of you as “the author.”
“Ghostwriters” have always been around, of course. Bookstores and Amazon are awash with books written by someone other than “the author.” And we as readers don’t seem to mind.
Her death was, insofar as we could tell, peaceful. She had deteriorated rapidly in recent days, and we were sensing the end was approaching. It came mid-afternoon: I was messing around on my iPad, sitting at the kitchen table feet away from her (her hospital bed had been set up in the dining room), and my Dad was in a chair next to her watching television. We had thought she was sleeping…. then we realized she wasn’t moving at all….
We’ve settled into a daily routine of helping look after my cancer-stricken mother. Unless something goes amiss, the days are now pretty predictable. But when something does go awry, it can create minor panic.
Yesterday, when Mom’s oxygen was inexplicably not flowing, my father started to “lose it.” I had to step in and reassure him, “Easy. Let’s check it carefully….” All the lights were on indicating correct functionality.
It turned out the line had been loose at the connection on the machine.
* * *
In other tech news, naturally the four year old (that’s right, four) G.E. dishwasher gave up about three weeks ago – before we got here and before her cancer diagnosis. $450 to fix, minimum, the repair guy said; better to buy a new one. “We call G.E. short for ‘generally expensive,'” he added.
Visiting my parents is at times like stepping back into a slower, simpler time. They prefer to use cash. They still write checks. They still do bills by mail.
While they do occasionally buy from Amazon and other online retailers, when it comes to MAJOR APPLIANCES they still go pretty traditional. At least my father does. I’d tried to help him buy a new dishwasher online, but he insisted on going to “old reliable” in person for a replacement.
My dying mother lies in a hospital bed set up in the (former) dining room. We have no idea how long she has left, but it won’t be long. We’ve made her as comfortable as we can.
There is nothing to do now but wait. We take turns at her side – my father, my wife, and I. (My sister *tries* to help, but she’s, well, f-cking hopeless on a variety of levels I can’t even start to begin to detail here. So there’s sometimes another tension that no one needs right now.) My wife has to return to England in a couple of days, but she will fly back here in a week or so. (We were supposed to go home together, but I’m staying here in the U.S. until my mother passes. My father needs me.)
A hospice nurse comes in every other day or so. To escape the drone of the oxygen machine that rumbles constantly in the house, when I get a break from my Mom I retreat to the guest room where we’re sleeping and stick in headphones. Besides reading the net, about the only escape I’ve got is tinkering now and then with the 99.9 percent finished Distances.
While sitting here in Pennsylvania, going back and forth to the hospital, trying somehow to deal with my mother’s deteriorating condition, we received another devastating blow: my uncle (my mother’s older brother), the novelist, died yesterday in Rhode Island.
He was 75. He was also my godfather. (Although, as I learned only in my early twenties, organized religion was not exactly his thing.) He had been in declining health for some time, yet somehow also seemed “indestructible.” His end came quickly and unexpectedly.
On Wednesday, it was discovered that my mother, who had recently developed hypothyroidism that was being treated, had something far worse that had gone totally undetected: what appears almost certainly to be cancer, likely lymphoma.