Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Filing Cabinet Thing

Over at Jenny's blog, she talked about how Fred's death hit her and about how he left "file cabinets full of stuff."

Since Fred's funeral last week, I've thought about those file cabinets. They seem to always be on the periphery of my thoughts. Jenny has dedicated herself to accumulating her own cabinets. I'm struggling with the idea. You see, while I didn't know Fred nearly as well any of the others, I was the closest to his age. How many years did it take him to produce what is in those files? How many years did I waste not writing anything?

Intellectually, I know that I can't get back those years and that worrying about them is counterproductive. But the death of a friend isn't an intellectual exercise. It's all about the emotions. So this last week I've been trying to get out of my head and go with my gut. Let myself do whatever seems to be the thing to do at the time. Writing has not happened. At all. No new stuff. No rewrites. Not even Morning Pages. What I've tried to do is get some of the things done that nag at me while I write: clean out the spare room that is supposed to be made into a comfortable writing room, lawn work, other cleaning, etc. And I have done some of that. I also spent a whole day watching the first season of True Blood. I went out to see Star Trek yesterday. I may do dinner and another movie tomorrow.

But today I am writing. This entry--the first one in a couple weeks--is one example. Morning Pages are being made up. And the pages for rewrites are on the table next to me. I've decided it doesn't matter how much I have time to produce before I finally call it a day for this lifetime. Just that I do. That I keep doing this thing I love and not let anyone or anything deter me. That I also listen to my heart as much as my head, if not more, so that I continue to have something to write about. I want to remember that sometimes writing means doing something else. That you never know what will be the catalyst for a story or a character or a setting. That first and foremost a writer must live in the world so she can observe it, because that's what we really do. We observe and report. It's just that there's a lot of other things that go on between the observation and reporting.

I hope some of Fred's work is published. As much for his family and friends as for him. But another legacy he'll be able to claim will be the inspiration he's been to group of writers in Southern Colorado. Here's to a lot of overflowing file cabinets.