Being homeless really sucks. The family has been displaced while the fumes from our emergency painting job dissipates. I bounce from the house to grandma's to be with Justine and the kid, and then back. But everything is in a state of upheaval. I need my routine to get my work done. Still, pretty productive day. Been writing a lot, sending stories out and all that. Well over 20,000 words into the new memoir. But like a large gal in a muumuu, it's shapeless, without form. Which is part of the process, the shitty first draft as Anne Lamott likes to say (in her terrific writing guide, Bird by Bird
). This is the least fun part of working on a big project, the auto-dumping, getting it all on the page, having little idea where you're going to end up. I do know my father has to be a bigger part, more clearly defined.
At my last appointment with my psychiatrist, the doc says, "Your father could be a book."
To which I respond, "I'm trying."
I could use a little more with which to work. I spoke with his best friend the other day, figuring he'd have to have something I could use. I mean, this was his buddy, a guy he'd known all his life, who was with him when he met my mother, through all the affairs, his truncated boxing career, worked with him, too, and working was the old man's life, and what did he give me? Not a fucking thing. He was nice, tried to be helpful.
He says, "Your father, he was a tough guy."
What motivated him? You have to have motivation for your characters.
"Money," his friend says. "Your father would do anything to chase a buck. Mow lawns, plow streets, he didn't care."
That I remember. We had money growing up, more than a lot of my friends. So it's not like he was hurting to pay the bills. He just liked making money. And he died with a lot of it (for which I am sure my stepmother is grateful).
But this did little to tell me who the man was. Which is the irony of all this, I suppose. I didn't have any desire to know the guy growing up, and now that he's not around I want nothing more than to ask him some questions, introduce him to his grandson, as I try to figure out why I became what I did, because I am part him, just like my boy is part me.
It's looking like I am going to have to make some shit up.