I didn’t take this advice. I’ve wasted most of my life waiting. Waiting for the perfect time to start, waiting to go to school and get the right kind of education, to paraphrase Pink Floyd ‘waited for that damn starting gun to tell me to run.
I was in my forties when I started writing seriously.
I am now 52 years old and I still feel like I’ve only tipped my toe into the river of stories I want to write.
I don’t write as much as I want to. I tell myself that getting a paragraph or two done a night is still better than nothing, right? I mean, the housework has to get done. Laundry needs to be cleaned. And, what are you going to do? Quit the day job? You need that money, sweetie.
It’s frustrating. I know I should be further along. I need to pour more into the keyboard and less into the never ending housework. I can’t expect to write anything worthwhile this way. It’s like going to the gym two days a month and wondering why you still have a paunchy gut.
And nothing punches me in the face with this truth like watching a friend die.
My friend and I belonged to a writers group, The Quill and Dagger. We’d meet, share stories, critique and generally help each other. He always wanted to write more but, ya know, work, family, all the things. One day, I’ll get to it. One day.
He told me recently that he planned on working another year or two more, and then he’d retire and write that novel.
Right before Thanksgiving, he had a seizure. Tests showed he had brain cancer.
They took the tumor out.
But you know Cancer. It’s a tenacious bitch.
Two months later, it came back. And this time it brought some friends. They pitched their metastatic tents in his brain and liver.
Today, my friend was sent to hospice.
He is 55 years old.
I was thinking about him while riding home from work on the bus. The sun was a red half circle on the horizon. The trees all looked like horrific dark skeletons reaching up to the sky from the hilltops.
I remembered something Richard told me. He said that he loved trees in the winter because, with all the leaves gone, you could see “the bones of the hills”.
He will never see another Spring. His stories will never be written down, never read. The ink on whatever drafts or outlines he has squirreled away will fade or the papers will be thrown away by unknowing family.
The lesson we’ve learned here, children, is: don’t wait.