Because I’ll be in the region soon, I’m about to start reading this 30 yr old Michener saga.
Yes, I’ve got a giant stack of fancy new releases, mostly literary fiction and mostly recommended by the who’s who, but it’s still the long days of summer and I have time to dig into 600 pages of historical fiction for no other reason than this: I feel like it.
I met with a fellow writer this week and we were talking about commitment. As in, how committed are we, am I, to writing. He’d recently attended a writing conference where an elderly, well-known physician/writer was asked, How were you so accomplished in both professions?
His answer: I did nothing else.
I’ve been thinking about this conversation. How committed am I, what with rescuing dogs and going to visit my kids and spending time with friends and going for daily walks and/or hikes and looking for a farmhouse and writing essays that have nothing to do with my memoir and going to concerts with my husband and having dinner with our neighbors on the patio and, as if that’s not enough, I’m about to head out on a one-in-a-lifetime trip in Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland.
Like I said, I’ve been thinking about it. And honestly all I can come up with is that I am committed to my writing and finishing this memoir, but I also need to be living my life in order to do it. Life is too short. It just is. And — at least right now — I’m not willing to do nothing else.
So I’ll be going to see my kids and I’ll have a beer with our very own Lyra. And then I’m going to get ready for my next adventure by reading some Michener. I was looking back at the reviews of POLAND and found this review from the NYT from September 1983. While no one seems to think the story is perfect — what story is? — Michener was known for his exhaustive research and his ability to weave page-turning fiction through thousands of years of history.
And right now, that sounds just about perfect.
And bravo for you. I totally agree. Life is indeed too short to spend it all on one, or possibly two if you are an over-achiever, thing. Live, enjoy, visit, travel, drink–I’m convinced it will all make us more interesting writers. And if not, we’re having fun.
As much as I understand the sentiment, I can’t fathom the phrase, “I did nothing else.” I would have nothing to write about.
I am insanely jealous that you are going to Poland (one of my ancestral homelands back when it was, I don’t know Lithu-Russia-Land) AND having a beer with our own Lyra. But you should be doing all those things because if you were at home writing 24/7 you would a) lose your mind and b) become a boring person and write about nothing but the interior of your skull.
My sentiments exactly.
Agree. WIth all of it. (except the ancestral homeland thing which I can’t agree with for reasons of veracity.)
First, please know that I left a Michener-novel sized comment re: commitment & writing and then deleted it b/c it turned out to be mostly non-sense that sounded more like the girl who won’t leave her mean boyfriend (“…but i love writing, i just want it to treat me better…”) vs a thoughtful comment on a difficult topic.
second, the Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland trip!? so jealous. i wonder if it works in opposite – like if I read Michener’s Hawaii the trip will manifest. ((art creating life?))
If you start reading Hawaii right now, maybe you’ll be beamed there for your birthday?