I wrote another book.
That sounds unbearably grandiose. Let me qualify.
I wrote a fifty thousand or so word first draft of something that may or may not be another novel.
And I owe it all to TS Eliot –
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
You see. I read Eliot’s Four Quartets for the first time when I was sixteen. And I have dipped in and out of these most perfect metaphysical explorations on and off all my adult life. That, for those who care for numbers, being somewhere around twenty three years.
I find something new every time.
When I set out to write another story I wanted to try to encapsulate some of the journeying of those years as well as the influences on my own explorations. To that end, I am unsure if I have accomplished it. But the above passage strikes in me that sense of purpose. To write because there is only the trying. Doing it, many times over and still doing it. That’s pretty much how I work. I just get my head down and out it comes. And the end result? Who knows. Who cares? Me maybe, maybe one or two people who will ask to read what I write.
But that isn’t the point.
Yet again, I reach the end of a story knowing that “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”