Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | April 24, 2018

Free spirit

I was laid off from my job a few weeks ago, and I am writing this sitting in the library I discovered as a ten year old.

The layoff was the second of the year (3 months) so mine was easy to digest and I had prepared for it during the past year or so. I dutifully commenced on my job search the next day with phone calls and emails, and then went about my life as I normally would given the time off. After a day or so I found myself walking the city (one of my all time favorite pastimes) and wasn’t properly attired for cold, rainy weather so I had to stop at a train station and get something hot to drink in me.

Anyone who knows me or who has read my blog writings will know that train stations are a favorite place of mine to write, but these facts still sneak up on me because I walk past these places all the time. As I sat down at a table with my hot beverage I wished fervently that I had a pen in my hand and a notebook to write in. As it’s been a while since I’ve written by hand, I was momentarily surprised at this desire, but nonetheless vowed to myself that the next time I was in this situation I would indeed have a pen and book.

During the next few weeks this grew into a routine, usually happening at night, and ending in a late night restaurant in Chinatown. As I wrote I also looked back into my notebook to see what I had written in the past since these particular notes went back a number of years, including the last time I had a job search to do. My notes alternate between journal and writing, occasionally switching on the fly. This time around, I enjoyed going from my journal to a character’s journal. I often didn’t know what I was going to write until I started writing it. Sometimes, I just started with dialogue instead of a character’s journal. As time went on, I found that I wanted to write more in the character’s journal than my own.

These writings were random, mostly centered on characters from a narrative that I had never finished developing. But the writing is therapeutic and act as a trigger for other writing. The change of location also had an effect on the writing, occasionally making it into the writing itself.

Today, I found myself at the library of my youth, specifically the first one I ever went by myself. This was also the place where I remember acknowledging the magic of books and the authors for creating such magic. Amazingly, it’s easy for me to remember when I first made this acknowledgment. It was the end of a summer, right before the time to go back to school and I can see the very spot where I stood then. The layout of the library has changed since then, but I can still see where the wall would have been, with dark brown shelves taller than me on both sides of the wall. I was just at that point where I was getting that realization of the size of the library and the need to go through every aisle, wondering if each book might fill me with delight the same way the last series of books did — that summer was a big one for me and the library. Nowadays, I have more books in my own library than I have time to read, so it’s clear to me that I never actually caught up to that sense of wonder. This is a good problem to have. 🙂

Today I organized several collections of notes over the past decade, consolidating notebooks, notepads, etc. into a binder. I went through old drafts of different versions of the novel I had worked on. I now need to get home and look for more notes as I’m remembering outlines I had done, etc.

As an aside, my job search has yielded an offer for a position that begins next week. This is good news and it alleviates future concerns, but all I can think of is that I only have a week left of living a life that caters best to writing and one that absolutely frees my mind. I have plans to visit three more libraries this week that played some part in my sense of wonder over the years.


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