My last post was on June 30th, and three days later my father died, just short of his birthday. He would have been 67. I tried making it out to Illinois every year, but because of the pandemic, I had yet to make it in 2020. My brother and my mother were with him when he died, and I find some solace in that. Turns out, the last time I would ever see my father was the morning of August 6th, 2019. The last picture I took of him was in 2018. He was playing with a dog at an animal shelter. He loved dogs.
Of course, this blog is about “writing” and all that, so let’s talk about writing, and my dead dad, because it’s all the same shit, really. One informs the other, and vice versa. And by that I mean: life informs writing and writing informs life. At least, it ought to, if the creator is engaged. Writing, art in general, can be as vacuous as any other monetized form of expression. The worth of a thing can be as little as its retail price. I don’t sully that, really. Whatever gets you through the day. But, personally, I use writing to work out my personal horseshit. I’m in a pretty big club in that regard. That is, after all, what artists do. We are meaty sponges who soak up reality and filter it in ways particular to our meat, and the meat which surrounds us. Wowie zowie. Ain’t we special.
Now, I had written that post on June 30th with the specific intention of gearing up to begin writing THE BODY IS A MACHINE THAT MAKES GHOSTS on July 6th. I’d wrapped lots of work for Rooster Republic Press and Strangehouse Books and the time felt right. I’d even, by a bit of tragic coincidence, dedicated the book to my father. Here I am, some month and change later, and I all ready have my first major revision. You know, because the person to whom I dedicated the book to isn’t going to be around to read the thing, as I’d originally intended. Some revisions you just don’t see coming.
But, instead of starting work on a new book, I drove 2,000 miles east to clean out his house. Kicker is, one informs the other, right? Sure, I wasn’t sitting at a computer, writing about ghosts, but I was digging through a dead man’s belongings, piecing together a ghost of my very own. In many ways, I suppose I’d been assembling this ghost for years and years. Until very recently, I was able to reconcile this ghost with the man’s material form.
Not any more. Only the ghost, now.
I last saw my father in August of last year. The next time I saw him, he was dust in a plastic bag. I hugged a bag of ash and the heart was ripped out of me.
Just as well, then, that i hadn’t gotten started on THE BODY IS A MACHINE THAT MAKES GHOSTS, because life presented me with a revision. The book that might have been will never be, because of this revision.
One informs the other. And a book about ghosts will be haunted by one. Written by one, too.