Welcome to my blog, Ground One.
Ground Zero : Function: noun; Date: 1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .
Ground One: Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems; 5: to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.
I’m putting the finishing touches on my novel. Despite the fact I wrote “THE END” some time ago, I’m no stranger to revision. The story came fluidly, if not quite effortlessly. I told what I knew, with some twists and turns. The revision has been a longer road. Every time I think I’m finished with a section, I find another pile of comments—from a member of my treasured writing group, my beloved friends, or even occasionally, a teacher, facilitator, or editor.
This weekend, I decided I would work as long as I could sit in front of the computer to finish the thing, once and for all. Yet much as a little girl’s eyes are bigger than her stomach, I always think I can get more done in an hour than is realistic, or even possible. Ten hours a day are all these aging bones can take at a desk. So, here I sit at the beginning of a work week, the beginning of another autumn, after four hurricanes have whipped through the southern United States waiting for me to write about them, ready to begin my “real, paid” work, all the while glancing at the piles surrounding me, not in a line but –if you’ve been reading this blog, you know it has to be–a circle.
I’ve already disposed of most of the papers full of comments into the recycling bin, but is it safe to dispose of electronic files? Plus, what if someone, someday, wants to see how this author’s mind worked from beginning to end? What if Hemingway’s drafts had been tossed in the garbage?
Not that I’m in any way comparing myself with Papa Hemingway. Just hoping that someday, someone, will remember that I had a little something to say. Should I throw proof of all these years of work into the garbage?
Tillie Olsen, who recently passed away in her 90s, had a lot to say. She published her first collection of short stories at age 50, an age I resonate with now. A more than half-way point in life. At least as soon as you’re one day past your 50th birthday. I’ve always been in a hurry, and now I find, in my mind at least, I’m on warp speed. Olsen also published a book that I read in my 20s but am identifying with more as each day passes. The non-fiction book, called Silences, “speaks of obstacles and frustrations faced when women and other disenfranchised people are driven to write,” as one reviewer put it. It took Olsen 15 years to write Silences. In it, she speaks of the reasons why authors, mostly women, become silent, pointing out that the silence is largely circumstantial. Considered a classic, it now seems to be out of print. One person resorted to pretending she’d lost it from the library and paying for it. Hang onto this book if you can find a copy of it; I wish I had.
Two things I remember from Olsen’s work: The first, factual, is that women writers before the 20th century had no children. Many had no spouses. Almost all published under a male nom de plume. The second, emotional, is the story of a female author who shut the door on her toddler son as he sobbed outside her makeshift office. Gradually, his sobs turned to whimpers, but he never stopped knocking on the door. Despite his pleas, she wrote. Despite her writing, she felt immense guilt. As time passed, this mother, this writer, felt she’d damaged her son.
Olsen knew what she was talking about. One of her stories is entitled, “I Stand Here Ironing.”
I’m not finished with my novel yet, but you’ll be the first to know when I have. Actually, all I have left is pagination and printing and a few tweaks to three chapters. I can see a finish line, of sorts. It’s any day now that I’ll come full circle. Then I’ll begin all over again. Because, as you can suspect, I have a big pile of clothes waiting to be ironed.