Lately, calendula_witch and I have been discussing the evolution of writers. Meaning, specifically, the manner in which the internal landscape is modified by the experience of writerdom. It’s an interesting proposition, at least to me.
I think most people’s lives are shaped like plot diamonds. When you’re young, all doors are potentially open. You identify your talents and interests, make educational and professional choices, find your way into your emotional and sexual maturity — each of those steps opens some doors and closes off many others, just as the evolution of a novel plot does. At some point, if you’re a bit lucky and a bit successful, you reach a place in your life where those choices are largely in place and you’re doing what you want to do, with whomever you want to do it with. Over time, you close more doors and focus on those which are most important to you, until the inevitable narrowing at the end of life.
I think writer’s lives are sometimes shaped like funnels rather than diamonds. Or perhaps hourglasses. My personal journey over the past decade has been a reversal of the choices and decisions I made in my 20s and early 30s, choices which at the time I honestly believed at the time would guide me through the rest of my years. The experience of immersing into my writing, both emotionally and professionally, has undone many of those choices, and added an immense number of possibilities which have not been open to me since I was a very young man.
We all grow in our own directions in life. Writers, if they are a bit lucky and bit successful, can grow in many directions in life.
All of this also has an odd echo in my experience of cancer this year. There’s a question I ask myself every day now. “Am I doing what I’d like to be doing on the last day of my life?” As a cancer survivor, as a writer, as a father, as a human being, my answer to that continues to be “yes.”
Is there a question you ask yourself every day? If not, what would it be?