(This photo is borrowed from an excellent post on the blog Prof KRG dealing with the same challenge from a different angle. Useful stuff, here.)
There are two things I’d like to cover in this post:
1) Finishing (or not) what I start.
2) Explaining Hot Tip #1 About Dying from my last post as I (hinted suggested prevaricated half-promised wiggled and sleazed) mentioned I might.
Finishing what I start.
Follow through, where writing is concerned, is not my strong point. I know it. My writer’s group knows it. Anyone who’s seen the three-year old I gotta copyright it for the book, man… notice in my sidebar and yet can find nothing else about the book anywhere on this blog has probably figured it out by now. I’m in serious danger of turning into a writer’s cautionary tale, an Aesop’s fable about what happens when you never actually finish any of the writing you start. (Hint: You eventually turn into a fattening, graying dilettante who spends the rest of her life writing flashy first chapters and then basking in the dwindling number of wows she gets from the dwindling number of readers who have a dwindling tolerance level for that kind of tease.)
I’m not there yet although my fear of it is rising exponentially because I’ve just launched my fourth major assault in six years on this book I’m trying to write. It’s morphed from non-fiction into creative non-fiction into fiction. From a kind of helpful guide into a memoir into an imaginary story. It looks nothing…nothing…like any previous version and deep down I’m now terrified that I’m just swimming around in circles but consoling myself that at least I’m covering a lot of miles.
There are only two possibilities left: Either it’s a structural/voice problem as I keep telling myself, or it’s a basic discipline/courage problem.
And actually, as I was writing the above I realized it’s both. But the second problem is bigger.
It’s not that I don’t spend hours writing everyday, I do. My butt time is duly noted and logged every morning just like it’s supposed to be. No. The problem is that I spend those hours writing, then rewriting, then micro-rewriting the same sentence/paragraph/page over and over again because I’m absolutely terrified of writing something that will make me look stupid/bad/inept/untalented, and because it’s a whole lot less risky to edit than create. (Like right now I’m thinking of shelving this post because it’s already too long and who cares about my writing process anyway you narcissist and why can’t I just distill it into the heart and soul of the thing instead of using three million fucking words for a blog post and I’ve now reread/tweaked this paragraph seven times because I’m too scared to keep going…you get the picture.)
This has got to change. Today I’ll take a stab at it with a baby step. I’ll follow through on something I wanted to do after my last blog post, which brings me to my second object with this post:
Explaining Random Hot Tip About Dying #1 from my last post. For those who don’t remember, the tip goes something like this:
“Dying is as much a gift as it is a punishment. Pick which view to invest in carefully as it will affect your entire life.”
The gift-part can be a little difficult to see, especially if you’re not that familiar with dying. But there are actually a lot of gifts and they tend to be profound.
(Like, for instance, if I never finish my book at least I’ll eventually die and be done with it.)
I’m kidding…kind of…but it’s still true. For me, as a long-time depressive, the knowledge that none of the dark periods I cycle through can last forever has lent me endurance more times than I can count, and actually saved my life on the two hardest days when I finally lost hope.
The dying people I worked with gave me another gift I’ll never be able to repay. It was while I was with them, listening to all the stories about living from those facing certain death, that I finally learned the secret of how to long for my own life.
They also taught me about how dying can be a final act of generosity, a way of saying I’ve loved this life so dearly but have taken enough for myself. It’s someone else’s turn now, to come into the world and stand where I’ve stood, to love what I’ve loved. Thank you.
And in allowing me to watch the way their beautiful, tender, wasting bodies were unravelling and vanishing they taught me about the difference between life and Life. How biological existence is one kind of luminous miracle, how the consciousness rising within it is a second, and how the love those two things wind up generating between them is the third and greatest miracle that transcends and outlasts them both.
But I’m getting mystical again…which, honestly, I can’t really help but need to at least try and curb a little.
In any case, these are just a handful of the gifts that I discovered about dying. There are more, lots more, but in the end each person has to delve in and discover their own, and they’ll be different for everyone. It’s worth the effort because it can help to change the lifelong prospect of dying from something horrible, unnecessary, miserable, and bleak to something that’s a little more helpful, even nourishing, to the life we get to live until then.
So that’s it. I’ve actually finished follow-up baby step #1! My confidence is building.
Next up: A post explaining Random Hot Tip About Dying #2 which goes something like this:
“Accepting dying might not always make it easier when it comes, but being horrified is guaranteed to make it worse.”
Now if I can just press the publish button I’ll be in business.
copyright Dia Osborn 2013