Thursday, November 15, 2007

Halfway

Today is November 15th, the halfway point in the month. I have been on the ragged edge of being sick for several days, so I have not stayed up late to write. That meant, in order to get to 25,000 words, I had to write nearly 6,000 today.

I'm at 25,116.

I have been asked for my profile information. You can find me here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/232474.

I have finally made it out of the first part of my story. As a narrative device, I have decided that the novel will have three sections: in the first, the story is told by a narrator; in the second, it is told in the voice of the burned out pastor whom my hero befriends; in the third, it is told by a combination of a narrator and excepts from my hero's journal. As I approached the transition between parts 1 and 2, I became nervous about the effectiveness of this idea. Then I realized that if it doens't work, I can just quit and go back to the narrator.

But my last 1000 words tonight were in the pastor's voice, and I am really liking it. Once again, at great personal risk, I am including a (very) lightly-edited excerpt from this section. I hope you enjoy it.

Besides, I couldn’t ever get away from the fear that maybe, even though I didn’t believe it, what I was saying was actually true. I could see that many of the people in my congregation who left each Sunday and tried to live what I said seemed somehow happier than I was. I tried to convince myself it was simply because they were simpletons who could be satisfied with easy answers to the hard issues of life, while I was the sophisticated and wise pastor who knew the truth behind the words. But even that explanation didn’t ring true for me. I’m sure it didn’t help that my wife seemed to be one of the simpletons. Especially since I had met and married her at Princeton, and knew her to be more intelligent than I.

So naturally, I did what every good man does who knows that his life is a lie and that, whoever else he may be fooling, he isn’t fooling himself. I threw myself more wholeheartedly into the lifestyle. I had left Princeton a teetotaler, not on any moral principles, but simply because I had seen the foolishness of my peers who allowed themselves to become too enamored of string drink. But the social circle in which I now travelled demanded a sophisticated appreciation of fine drink, and so, slowly at first, I began to have a glass of wine, or an after-dinner drink, just to be a part. I wish my story were more original, I have always wanted to think of myself as my own man. But the reality is that after 10+billion human beings, there aren’t any new ways to ruin one’s life. I had never kept alcohol in the house, since we never hosted any of the parties, but I began to keep some “good” liquor, and some of the more highly-regarded beers of the region, just to help me “relax” at the end of the day. At least, I told myself that that was the reason; I now understand (as I’m sure you already guessed) that the alcohol was to mask the pain of my meaninglessness. Serving as a pastor for so long, I met a great many frauds. The most important of them were given the opportunity to sit in my office and confess their sins to me, as I sat wisely nodding and offering them what absolution my faithlessness and the theology of my church allowed.

The irony was that as I sat there, something inside of me longed for someone to whom I could confess, someone who could offer me absolution. As I sat there as the high and lofty judge of the poor, lost soul who was before me, I was actually giving them what I could not find for myself. So I did the only thing I knew, I drank.

My wife knew, I’m sure she did. Like I said, she was more intelligent than I, but she also believed. I’m certain she had seen through my fa├žade a long time before, and she didn’t believe any of it. I suspect that she prayed for me daily. She went to all the parties, she drove me home drunk at the end, and she generally made sure that I kept something together for the sake of my congregation.

You have probably noticed by now that I speak of her in the past tense. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 47. When she went in to see the doctor, he estimated that she had actually had the cancer since her early 30s. These days, mammograms and self-exams might have saved her life, but we didn’t have or know about such things back then, and she died within months of the diagnosis.

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