In the broadest sense, I have been trying to write this for twenty-five years, with the first version being produced in 1998. Along the way, there have been scores of attempts to write it, but something was always missing. As I wrote it each time, it fell apart, became dead and lifeless, and at times a stale biography. That wasn't what it was. This book was something else. This book was the one I am supposed to write, the only one that really matters.
In addition to many efforts that fell short of the intended mark, I utilized everything2 as a place to write pieces of the story, which in turn brought a lot of people to me who wanted to know more or told me what I'd written had a deep impact on them. That was important to me, but what I was primarily doing was still working out what the story was really about. It began with my suicide and unexpected return, followed by what seemed to be a complete reverse in personality and confidence from where I'd been when my self-hatred had boiled over. It continued with the story of my journey, highlighting some of the key stories that made up my personal mythology. Many of those writeups are now obsolete, the victims of my inability to truly grasp their meaning at the time I'd written them. I was unable to write the book because I didn't yet know what it was really about. This was what I needed to find. I knew the book was important, but I was struggling to understand the point of it. I knew what I was essentially trying to say, but didn't really know why saying it was important.
That is more than I can unpack here, the full nature of that struggle to put it together, but then came June. My mother had been in the hospital for some time with complications from colon cancer after she'd had a tumor removed. She was not going to live, and when I got the word that the end had come, unable to make the trip to see her because of my illness, it was June 6, 2019, the 25th anniversary of my suicide. She made it through the night and died on June 7th, the day I returned. Every five years since my suicide, I get a powerful reminder of something that I am missing or getting wrong in the form of some kind of tragic or traumatic turn that alters the narrative. This was the sign this year, and I read it as meaning that I only had so much time to do all I needed to do because people have expiration dates. There were people I needed to talk to from my past, to apologize to, and perhaps in some way make amends for my past actions.
In addition to understanding what the story was really about, there was one huge mistake I'd been making. I'd been writing myself as a heroic figure, who dies and comes back and does heroic things and lives a changed existence. While that may be partially true, and whenever you write and talk about yourself it is hard to avoid self-promotion and shining a positive light on yourself. This was not genuine. It avoided something that it took me two decades to figure out: I was not the hero of the story.
There was another major problem with the past efforts to write the book. While there were many problems, my not being the hero and the cryptic and confusing introduction of dream fragments as they occurred in the timeline. I'd kept journals of the dreams and events that I considered to be of significance, and these cryptic dreams make sense fifteen chapters later, but with the large number of them, everyone who read those parts was utterly confused by them, as I was at the time. There was another way that dawned on me. The dream fragments were all from the same place, the realm of my unconscious, Rancho Nuevo, and when I put them together they formed a narrative. That narrative runs parallel to the story of my life in the "waking world," but it also informs it and is influenced by it, the basis for my belief that the unconscious realm is the source of all mythology, religion, and spiritual experience. The metaphysical realm, in my belief system, is internal and not external. We chose to become meat.
Once I digested this realization and thought about it for some time I realized that the narrative of Rancho Nuevo was mythology. I'd always said that in talking about personal mythology, but I hadn't before applied it in this way aside from some short pieces I wrote here, which mainly concentrated on the Blackjack Saloon, derived from dream fragments. As a whole, Rancho Nuevo plays out like a complex fantasy world complete with heroic figures, castles, and a whole shitload of symbolism as the stories are metaphorical reflections of the waking world. It is where we process information in accordance with information already known. The past informs the future. We glorify the victories of the past as mythological tales of greatness, not always, but sometimes we can't help ourselves, just as we sometimes focus so much on loss and perceived failure that we turn it into a sign that we've been defeated and there is no hope. That is not to say that some events are not heroic on a grand scale, or that anyone's pain is being minimized, but that we go to our core and we process a major setback as a great loss in battle as we consider those victories that matter most to us to be triumphs in a battle against the odds.
For the first time I've completed Act I, which is also part of the new equation. There were always three acts, but I failed to see the clear points at which those begin and end, and that relates to the first act not being the tale of a heroic figure who returns from the dead and performs miracles, but a tragic story of someone who, in the end, makes the same mistakes he did in the past before his decision to end his life once again. This ends with a tragedy that is reflected in the story of the Great Siege in Rancho Nuevo.
Battles in Rancho Nuevo don't involve exchange of fire or any kind of combat at all. They are epic chess matches. I had been writing them wrong.
The first draft of Act I was completed a week ago and I'm already rewriting it as I decided I needed to before Act II as much was left out and too many unnecessary bits were in there. I haven't done a rewrite of anything since 2007 began I get sick to my stomach reading ninety-percent of what I write. This doesn't make me sick when I read it or rewrite it. I believe I finally tapped the right vein, and I'm sure of it because this book is now extremely painful and emotionally draining. Writing your truth can do that to you.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support. I journey forward.