I get tired, which I guess is normal at 79. But what’s tending to tire me out these days is the past. I’ve been sorting and filing tons of the remnants of a life: scripts, photos, reviews, grant applications, correspondence, etc. etc. etc.—knowing that when I die I’ll inevitably leave a mess, but a less disorderly mess.
I’ve been a bit startled to see how much we’ve done in the last 20 years since moving from our pleasant & well-funded nest in Philadelphia: 19 stage productions (of which we’ve written 17); 92 episodes of a radio series; sculpting of 95 puppets; editing 4 dvds, 40 short stories (7 published); 8 novels and a memoir (5 published); two unproduced screenplays; plus a garden and two cats. Right now, I’m in the 3rd draft of a new novel, editing a memoir-in-progress by Elizabeth, doing interior layout for an anthology of our comedies, and waiting for the world to open up.
Our purpose in life? For sure, the urge of protoplasm to persist in its structure and to replicate itself is pretty certain. Anything beyond that is for us individually to decide. The sky’s the limit, even for those who want to get to Heaven. For me, it’s to offer love to my family; to tell stories any way I can; to behave like a decent human being; to struggle against the solipsism that stemmed from the genes and from being an only child; and to leave my campsite cleaner than I found it, or at least interesting.
Why the storytelling? Beats me. I’ve worked mostly on stage, but also on the page, in radio, video, puppetry—since the age of fifteen. At that time, the motive was clear: a way to meet girls. But by now I’ve met a number of girls and I still persist.
At one time, it was to get famous, to leave Iowa behind, to gain the means—money, prestige, connections—to enable more & better work, and for the work somehow to achieve longevity. That’s long gone.
In part, I guess, it’s curiosity: it’s a safe way to meet people, explore them and their deeds, always wondering why. Some writers write to express themselves; I think I write or act or direct to discover what’s in this creature and its fellows.
And in part, it’s the same urge the cats have to chase a foam ball over the sofa, across the living room, and up the cat tree in the corner—not for the sake of the foam ball but just to feel the muscles. To feel alive.