A Writer’s Life

Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2011 in Stories

As the old proverb puts it:
Live not in the past, look instead towards the future,
But in order to know where we are going
It is well to look back to see where we have been.

As a writer my job is to depict life and its events in the way I see them. I need to stay in tune with everything going on around me. I have to feel what others do not feel. I have to see what others do not see. I have to reveal the human condition. Because of that I am difficult to live with and I know that full well. So do others near and dear to me.

Still I go on. I have to write. I have to do that. It is so important that I leave behind the best of my work. My writing must be good. It has to be. Nothing else matters but that. Nothing.

I think of John Steinbeck. I consider him on an October morning all his own.

It was the morning of October 26, 1938. Steinbeck, fighting flu and facing all the demons that writers have to battle daily, completed writing The Grapes of Wrath. The last sentence of his diary entry for that date reads: “Finished this day — and I hope to God it’s good.”

I know that feeling. Many of you know it as well.

Through my published books — and I hope they are good — I pray I am leaving enough of the past to help others know where they are going by looking back to see where we have been.

Early in my life I was fortunate to figure out that I wanted to be a writer. I had no notion it would be such an interesting journey and one littered with all sorts of decisions.

Writer’s decisions. Countless decisions that go into every single act of writing. Daily decisions we all face. Which way to go . . . which way to turn . . . The sweet cruise … the ride to a rendezvous with danger.

Along that path I made some decisions that were very difficult. Most I stand behind; there are some I deeply regret — more than any of you will ever know.

Yet I have no choice but to move forward. To make amends where and when I can and continue to work at what I do best. In the end, my own life is of little consequence. I know that. I remember Georgia O’Keeffe saying it this way: “Where I was born and how I lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”

You need to strive to be all you can be. Make every single day your own masterpiece. Make wise choices but never be afraid of risk. Seek out the crooked paths, the roads of genius. Enjoy the journey.