The Gift and the Challenge



I could start with the tent.
Which was not where it started, but was in fact the most recent “rediscovery” of this strange and wonderful year.
I will be going kayak-camping this fall, and so I needed a tent. But I thought I already had a tent – which I couldn’t find. So I hied myself off to Sports Authority (with a coupon!) to get a bare-bones backpacking tent. Mission accomplished.
Three weeks later, with a (returned) ladder, I worked my way to the back of the loft in the shed and found – the original tent. Nicely packed in its blue stuff sack, complete and, surprisingly, without mold or mildew or rot.
It’s been that kind of year. A year of rediscovery.
Last fall, an e-mail out of the blue from Permuted Press started the process of bringing my first novel, Neena Gathering, back to life after 25 years out of print. New cover, new electronic edition, even a new voice for Neena through an Audible book. 
An anthology on Persephone is going to reprint "Persephone in Suburbia," which first appeared in Poetry in 1991.
But these weren't the biggest rediscoveries of 2013. Through a series of moves as part of a divorce, I found the hard-copy manuscript of an ambitious historical novel that I began in 1992 and abandoned in 1995, when an earlier divorce left me unable to go forward despite three hundred pages written, a shelf of books annotated, and a thick stack of folders full of research notes. 
The computer on which it was written was long gone, along with the floppy discs and the outdated program that ran them. I had thought the book was gone as well. But here were the pages, all of them, printed on that old micro-perfed continuous-form paper. All the notes I had made, in heavy ballpoint pen. 
It was a gift – and like a gift in any fairy tale, it is accompanied by a challenge. Am I up to the task? Can I recover the melodies and harmonies of this half-sung tune? Will the grace notes of character be there?
So I read through the manuscript and found that these people quickly came back to life. The writing is a bit clunky, but the story is all there – the second and third portions of the book already laid out, ready for me to pick up where I left off.
My rediscovered research has been tucked into an old filing cabinet repainted bright golden yellow. The books purchased years ago – The White Goddess, The Marvels of Rome, Myths and Symbols of Pagan Europe, The Anglo-Saxon Age, and many more – are lined up on the shelf above my computer. The pages are in the process of being OCR’ed into an editable Word document.
Now to begin. Again.

"And the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started,
and know the place for the first time."
                          T.S. Eliot

 




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