Saturday – August 1st, The Writing Process Round Three
This is the park we were standing in late last night on the way home, and Rafa clicked this photograph with his phone. It has been filtered and treated to get to this image.
It is exactly what we saw in real time.
I met with Rafa this evening for round three of the outline review. And once again, he had plenty of food for thought. He is a classicist and is well read on a great amount of classical literature, which makes him a perfect mentor for my project.
In pondering my theme of “Canada” from the book, this week, he introduced the concept of
“Nostos” or homecoming to me and that it might apply to my story as it has unfolded for him.
The story opens with a God moment, and as the story unfolds, Canada becomes part of my story, but for almost the whole outline, Canada does not appear until I cross the border into Canada.
I was directed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but no “nostos.” I went to the Oxford dictionary and got the word “homecoming.” Then I thought of Wikipedia, now I know, as an academic, that Wikipedia is never used as a credible source nor should you ever cite or use a wiki entry, on any paper. But this is what they had to say about “NOSTOS.”
Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean “Welcome Home” in the Greek language. Nostos is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes’ homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.
God is there, in my life, I am introduced to Him and He to me. The God thread runs throughout my life, and at one point, I am in seminary, then I am summarily dismissed from that seminary when my concept and practice of faith does not meet muster with my superiors.
And I walk off the grounds and look to heaven and say …”Hey God, don’t you know who I am?” “Do I matter or what, and why am I standing here outside the gates, when I should still be standing inside of them, and I am not, WHY?
I have read “The Odyssey” by Homer as a student, and later in life, saw a television movie of the same book. Tonight, Rafa gave me his copy to read, “The Odyssey of Homer by Richmond Lattimore. I am told, this translation is the best one to read.
Why are you reading the Odyssey? you might ask.
My story is a story of “homecoming.” Beginning in one place, and as a child, I am taken on a journey by my parents. I grow up, go to college and seminary, where my personal odyssey begins.
I say my personal odyssey, because I chose what I was going to do it, I was not led or taken anywhere by anyone else, like my parents, growing up as a child.
I travel from one “island” to another “island.” I am adrift at sea a number of times, and then end up on other islands, and the final move is to “ITHACA.” My story, not unlike Odysseus’ journey to return home to Ithaca, takes a long time, on a winding path, from one place to another, to this person and the next, but it seems, for a while, I may never get there, until a fortuitous letter comes in the mail, with an invitation to come HOME.
But the journey is not complete for Odysseus, he just doesn’t return and become king or get the title or his wife, and all that was his, he has to work his way back, one step at a time, and we talked of other books, that we do not have, the book that comes before the Odyssey, and the one that comes after the Odyssey, telling us what happens to Odysseus after he returns to Ithaca.
When I get here, to Montreal, there is still work to do. I just don’t win the prize, having freshly walked over the border. And in the end there is a penance that I must do.
At one point in my story, I meet a priest who is crippled by M.S. and he becomes my spiritual director. And in telling Rafa this story again tonight, he likens me to a “crippled preacher (read: recovering alcoholic), who must travel and share his message with others,” like Odysseus carries an OAR into/onto the land far from the sea, to share his message, until he reaches a place where nobody has ever seen the sea or know what an OAR is.
My life is an Odyssey, and in the end, I get to return to Ithaca and I am finally restored to who I am and to whom I am to become, something that was rightfully mine as a child, but taken away, and as the story unfolds, I am sailing and traveling endlessly, until I reach Ithaca.
I get to Canada, and I inherit all that is mine to have, passed down from my family, but it takes time to learn just what those things are, what they mean, and why they are important.
So my task now, it to rewrite my outline. I need to gather my stories in the form of “Islands and Time at Sea.” Each episode is a visit to some place, to meet someone or learn something. I am reminded to use literary economy, and use as little words as are necessary to tell my story. And if what I am writing is not relevant to the story, to just leave it out.
I need to thread all the stories together, which is why I am reading the book now, before I start writing, to see how it is written, what words are used and why and what they mean.
Read the Book, work on the outline. I have two weeks to complete this round.
Which is why tonight, I begin my read of the Odyssey.