Monday, November 2, 2009

Subconscious Intrusions

Have I mentioned that the first thing we do each morning is milk our goats? It takes about 30 minutes. I usually play “stable boy” while my partner in this earthly journey, Karen, squeezes teats. Now and then she calls me to hobble a cranky doe. It would be a waste if a goat hoof contaminated the milk pail.

At the first creative writing workshop I attended, our instructor began her introductions by warning us that no one makes a living as an author. I knew what she meant, but when my turn came to say what I did, I said, “I make a living as an author.”

It’s true and has been for 12 years, but I’d give up every book (make that “reference work”) I’ve written and a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court for a $5,000 advance and a National Book Award. Would I really?....Yes. I think. Maybe. (It’s good Faust isn’t listening.)

A law professor’s wife once asked me, “Do you miss the law?” I chewed on my tongue, wondering how to respond. I often spend 8 hours or more in a day thinking, analyzing and attempting to explain “the law” and she wonders if I miss it? I patiently explained that not every person who no longer practices law is a law professor.

She raised a good point. If I didn’t fiddle with “the law,” would I miss it? That’s one of the challenges I face in rewriting my novel. As I turn to the task, my subconscious, if not my conscious, mind continues to toy with the topic of my latest work, the book or update I’m quite certain will bring me a royalty check. Transitioning to music or creative writing can be like swimming the English Channel.

For example, today as I reached for the black-and-whites, my mind wandered to a letter a group of trade associations recently sent to HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). The letter detailed issues the group has with regulatory changes scheduled to take effect on January 1, and asked for a delay. The letter made some good points and some not-so-good points, and whined too much at a federal agency that, like the Federal Reserve Board, has failed to live up to its potential for some time and now finds itself on the hot seat with Congress. Both agencies share blame, along with many other causes, for the financial crisis we’re in. Having come late to action, they’re struggling like drowning victims.

I wonder if the authors of the letter realize it might serve as a lightning rod for the plaintiffs’ lawyers who are, or should be, salivating over January 1. Even if HUD chooses to be lenient for a few months after January 1, state statutes present attractive opportunities for plaintiffs’ lawsuits.

All of this is good for my business, but frankly, I’d rather not have to think about it.

Virginia, I can assure you, has no interest whatsoever in this aspect of “the law,” although she has on occasion needed the services of a good lawyer.

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