“The country no longer wanted leaders, evil or otherwise. In this new era, a performance and scripted words would do just fine.”
The novel I’m working on first situates itself in 1980. The line quoted above is a reflection from one of the characters, on Election Eve, as he watches the results come in. I’ve worked on this book for years, first started weaving its threads long ago. My impulse for revisiting this time period traced itself to my own confusion, in 1980, during my first election. I had been raised on progressive politics, had weathered in my childhood the Nixon scandal and the end of the war in Vietnam. In 1980, I was eighteen years old and back to believing in possibility. Then we voted an actor into office and all bets were off all over again.
Today, I reread these words and marveled yet again at all we tell ourselves about history, all those cliches and platitudes. I’ve wrestled with this book for a long time, had many crises of faith about the story, the characters, their desires and motivations. This book is a first for me, a trying, difficult effort to consolidate the things I know to be true with the things I wish were different. I’ve struggled to get it “right” while frequently getting it “wrong.” But if I know anything, it’s the truth of certain words, no matter the doubt, an matter the effort.
Choose your words, find the ones that fit, and keep trying. One day, you’ll reread them and know that for one moment at least, you got it. You got it.