Leaving Lawrence

I drove off the campus of Kansas University at about noon, playing my new Boxcar Satan CD louder than is strictly necessary. I went south on Highway 59 for a few miles until it crossed 56, which seemed to be going more or less my direction. It was an older stretch of road, more inclined to roll with the terrain rather than blast through it. Around Baldwin City I stopped and applied sunscreen (only a little too late) and carried on, enjoying the rolling hills and the barns. There are a lot of barns on that road; large and small, stone and wood and brick, red and white, ramshackle and tidy.

Traffic was light, polite and scrupulously obeyed the speed limits. I’m on the Santa Fe trail, which appeals to me, because Santa Fe is my next stop.

Jim Gunn asked me if I’d learned enough at the workshop. I said I’d learned all I could, but we’d have to see if that was enough. My brain is like a glass, I said, and knowledge is beer. Right now the foam is up to the rim; once it settles we’ll see how much beer is actually in there.

While saying goodbye, several of my fellow writers said (more or less) “You have to finish your novel! I have friends that will love it!” That’s encouraging, and flattering, but now I have to write the damn thing. These other good folk have constructed in their heads what the story will be like, and they like the image. But can I live up to those expectations? I don’t have a single chapter in final form yet.

I guess time will tell. All I can do is string the words together while wearing a quirk of a smile on my face, and hope the funny comes through in the darkness. For there will be darkness.


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