Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Write Like You're Dying

I sometimes wonder what my family would do with all of my writing things if I suddenly died.

My husband is generally not the nostalgic type, and despite my certainty that he would be sad about my passing, I can't imagine him holding on to my writing stuff as some sort of shrine or tribute to my memory. He hates clutter and I would suspect he'd sweep the contents of my shelves into the garbage without a thought, although I'd at least hope he'd go for recycling all of the paper and giving the empty binders to Goodwill or something.

I wonder if anyone - my kids or my mother - might take the time to read my notes or the pages of various manuscripts that I've printed out. I have everything very nicely organized, with each story idea in its own binder or folder. I wonder if they'd be able to understand my plans or make enough sense out of my notes and scribbles that they'd be able to see what story I'd wanted to tell. Maybe they'd shake their heads sadly and determine that I'd been completely delusional about ever thinking I could be published. I like to think they'd shake their heads sadly and think what a waste it was that I never finished what I'd started or that I didn't have the chance to get all of those stories out of my brain and onto paper.

As morbid as this line of thinking is, I've been doing it more recently because the uncertainty of life has been smacking me in the face. My father is currently undergoing treatment for leukemia, a battle he's been fighting for almost a year now. Cancer is one illness that had never struck my family until now, so I'm getting my first taste of how this disease completely and totally takes over your life. Plans implode and intentions for projects disappear in a poof. Between the constant exhaustion and the side effects from the drugs and the trips to the doctor and the time spent in the hospital, there simply isn't time or energy to do much other than survive the day.

To punctuate this reality, the gals over at Smart Bitches posted a tear-jerking video made by an Australian man who has cancer as a birthday gift for his wife. I was so moved by the video that I found his website and am determined to follow him as he fights for his life. Hard to believe I could care so much about what happens to a complete stranger, but my heart goes out to him and his family, and I pray for his recovery.

Finally, Adele over at Persnickety Snark recently posted about her frustrations and despair over the status of her writing, and I find that her thoughts very closely echo my own. Between a lack of discipline and a crisis of confidence, I'm doubting my ability to ever become a successful writer. It's very embarrassing to have friends and family ask me about my writing and to have no good news or even a decent excuse as to why it's going so slowly other than that I'm a slacker.

So I think about all of those partials sitting in various stages on my shelves or residing in the folders on my laptop's hard drive and I think what a shame it would be if something happened that I couldn't finish all of the things I started. Or if all of those stories in my head never got told and died along with me. Surely I don't think that I would be changing the world by putting them on paper, but how sad if I didn't at least try to share them in some way, to leave behind that part of me as some sort of legacy for my kids.

Clearly the gods are conspiring to remind me that the time we have is limited, and waiting until tomorrow is a risky thing to do because you never know what's going to come at you. If for no other reason than to leave behind stuff that my husband might be reluctant to toss, I need to finish what I start.

1 comment:

laura said...

As an aspiring writer myself, i too wonder what will happen if I die and none of my stuff is published. My hubby will probably be the same as yours... toss it al out. I don't have any kids either, so unless my cats learn to read and write i guess this is it.
Or i could always post the stories for free somewhere. It's not the money or the recognition i want, but jsut to share my stories.
Oh, well nice post. Made me reflect on my own life too. Thanks!