Tag Archives: Annie Dillard

Staying Put, Outta the Way

This afternoon, I started writing again about the memorial to my dad that I had almost four months ago. Because two years ago they published another essay about me, my father, and the same Arkansas River, I was aiming for this essay to also be for High Country News. Well, as I wrote, things on the page got dark. What was getting written wasn’t what I intended, expected, nor (in a sorta real sense) wanted.

But I kept pen to the pages. Really, what else was I to do? It was rich, mucky, fecund stuff—so what if it was tangenting in a unexpected direction? If the writing had been sunny and upbeat, I wouldn’t have stopped just because it wasn’t minding where I want it to go. Annie Dillard addresses this problem of the writing, specifically the characters, getting away from the writer: “What’s a god to do?”

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post the struggle between taking credit for the writing and being honest about it coming from Somewhere Else. How it still comes down to the gift and talent of being open, of getting out of inspiration’s way. Part of engaging in the dance is choosing when to lead, when to be led.

Too, there’s this: Sometimes there’s stuff that has to be written in order to get to the stuff that’s meant to be in the finished piece. Either that particular thread is en route to where you need to go, or it needs to be said and given its due so that you can move on to the “actual” writing. And, finally, there’s a whole can of worms that gets opened once you start in on a specific subject. There just may be more than a single essay waiting to be written about the Ark, my dad, and me. Unless I stay with the writing, no matter where/how it goes, I’ll never find out; the story to be told will never find its way through me.

Dad, in his element, feeding Canada geese. He and I had our issues; but this is how I prefer to remember my Old Man: this contented, this relaxed full-bore smile on his face.

Dad, in his element, feeding Canada geese. He and I had our issues; but this is how I prefer to remember my Old Man: this contented, with this relaxed full-bore smile on his face.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Parental Passing, Staying With the Writing

The Age Thing, Part II

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, this “Age Thing” I wrote about last time is pretty much “full of prunes,” as my mom would say. We each come to our callings, our tuggings, at differing stages of our lives. Yeah, maybe I am getting a late start, writing-wise, (which I’m making increasingly later by my whiney and mopey procrastination, by the way), but so what? By all systems of measure, writing is what I want, and am called, to do. So why aren’t I? Because I just turned 50? Sheesh, whatta load of horse-hooey!

Earlier this week, a nearby newly-published writer came to town: Andrea M Jones. In the December issue of Colorado Central, I reviewed her, Between Urban and Wild. So strongly did her writing impress me, I urged the local bookstore to include her in one of their upcoming monthly book readings/signings. On one hand, I wanted Andrea to receive the recognition and expansion of her audience for which her writing was due. (I also figured it’d be a good thing for the bookstore, having her. This same bookstore that’s supported me in all the ten years it’s been open.) On the other hand, I wanted to meet this woman, this writer whom in my review I compared to Annie Dillard, and also Susan J Tweit and Laura Pritchett.

Guess what. Turns out Ms Jones just might be a wee bit older than I. And I don’t think she’s given any notion to her age being an excuse for not writing, for not sending her writings out into the world. So what’s my excuse, now?

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Staying With the Writing