Eventually words stop. And then they begin again. That dead moment between is a theatrical nightmare. At all costs we strive to suspend disbelief. We move, we make noise, we counter to our fellow thespian, “What’s that you said?” but we do not freeze our eyes, our brains, or worse, call out ‘line?’ before a live audience! We never let them know something is amiss. We never call them dead. We go with the flow!
‘Suspended-disbelief’ is foreign to 90 year old Nancy; ‘wombat’ was foreign to me. Terminology needs explication, but preferably not at the risk of interrupting the flow. Audience members get it as the actor points his index finger, raises his thumb, and yells aggressively, “Get your hands up!” When the reciprocator goes with the flow and becomes scared, real scared, we feel actual sympathy for the plight; our hearts may even beat! “All of life is shadows,” says Plato. We see the sun come in through the cave opening and make patterns of our silhouettes on the wall, and we think what we see is truth. We fear the truth of the sun. Some will be fearful of shadows. Others will mock. There are many who do not like Opera, let alone weep with it. There are many who can’t stand musicals, or the theatre. They simply cannot get past the evidence of theatrically. I’ve not met anyone not liking movies (though as a child I was forbidden to go on religious grounds).
Some prefer black and white. I prefer some of everything.
Ensconced in this cave and well into my sixth week, the shadows within have become very real. The sun does its transit outside and I am vaguely aware of the differentiation in light. M’Lady keeps the air-conditioner on, draws or pulls the curtains according to the dictates of the hour, and maintains the cottage as a cozy haven. No bird in a gilded cage could be more contained. Meals are regular, and five vegetables at dinner time is a must! It is a nicely habituated, orderly, well practiced ritual of genteel life.
My agitation comes not from being enclosed and faced with the glow of a computer screen. It does not come from not knowing which of the 2,000 plus photos or documents I should apply to text, nor even where to find it (for like kindling to my fires, and fuel to my perseverance, I’ve organized my reserves sufficiently to be able to locate the needle in the haystack.) No, my agitation comes from my ego. When in the flow of things I know well my lines, hardly am I a-feared at all of what comes next, and can deliver as though my performance is the first time, every time. But self-consciousness intrudes. In the span of the 350 plus pages of the Memoir the possibility of omitting, offending, slighting, dismissing, ticking someone off and something going wrong is great! I shall be seen for the act it all is; which of us can be perfect? And then there’s the time spent too. Six weeks of 14 to 16 hour days ought to do it, but the rewrites, the edits, the cut-outs, the add-ins all make of some groundwork a lot of waste. Working in tandem with someone else was meant for finely matched horses, exquisitely paired dancers, ice-skaters, or well trained dogs. We humans work essentially to our own pace, our own rhythm, and often we do not rhyme. No wonder, despite all of history, marriages are on their way to being distinctly temporary things. At the end of the dance one or the other wants to bow out, or at least to change the tune.
My ego is at stake. I promised to deliver. I need for stakeholders to be ready with edits and replacement photos and deletes and add-ins within four days of my giving each of them a Memory Stick; the file is nearly 2GB. I too shall be reviewing. Print if you like; information pertinent to you is on pages x, y, and z. Have them in by Sunday! On Monday next, my seventh week here, I do all the final adjustments! It goes to the printer by midweek! By the Saturday I will have a ‘proof’; by the ninth week we will have the books in hand; yes, all 50 plus of them! And by April 01 we will have a book launch. Suspended disbelief?