I’m feeling the need to write more personal stuff and I don’t want to start another blog, so posts about writing and publishing will be sharing space with topics that may be only marginally related to my regular writing. At least for a while. I don’t really know how this will work out or whether anyone will be interested, but this blog has been feeling static for some time. Life isn’t static, my writing isn’t, so the blog needs to reflect that.
Start with the weather. Why not? Everyone else talks about it, and it does tend to affect my writing. Today, it’s already 86 degrees at 11 am, with the forecast promising a long run of high temps in the mid to high 90s. I don’t function well in excessive heat, so I’m now looking at the annual mid-summer pain of having the air conditioner working around the clock. Sometimes I have to turn it off for a few hours just to get some relief from the steady drone.
When I first started reading books about prison, I just read them, not bothering to mark passages or take notes. Now, new books get the full treatment, and I’m going back and rereading the ones I need for reference, doing the marking and notes. I don’t have a retentive memory, so I usually find that I get more out of a book from a second reading, so that’s really all to the good.
Rereading books by prisoners, about their lives and the conditions which have shaped them in prison, what jumps out at me is something the general public will never understand. It’s the power of personal transformation that can make the young criminal and the mature man seem like two entirely different people. I consider it a miracle that such transformation can happen at all under horrible living conditions that no one in the free world can even imagine, and that they would prefer to avoid knowing or thinking about. I don’t know how often it happens. Possibly not very often, but it does happen.
The horror is that it doesn’t matter. The transformed person will still die in the execution chamber or live out his life in prison, frozen, as Kenneth Hartman says, “into their worst moment forever.” Once found guilty and condemned, they’re denied “the hope of positive growth and change that’s oxygen for the spirit of a human being.”