Long ago on another blog far away, I held a weekly writer’s roundtable every Wednesday. It was anchored by a short essay, and I invited writers to weigh in on the topic of the day. Connections were created around this table. It was where I first met Andi Cumbo Floyd, Jeanie Croope, Kerstin Martin - women with whom I continue to draw inspiration for creative work (not just writing).
Since Life In General was published, I’ve been thinking about what’s next for me in this writing practice which I depend upon, and I thought it might be fun to explore that in a new series of Write on Wednesday posts. For the past two years my writing goals were focused on putting Life In General together. It was a satisfying process and a superb learning experience. Publishing it put a cap on eight years worth of writing and tied it up nice and neatly.
But Life Goes On. That’s the theme that seems to be emerging for my online writing, the essays I write here on this blog. How do I use what I’ve learned in this decade of my 50’s and go forward with it into my 60’s? You know those guiding principles I talk about in the Afterword of Life In General? How are they working out for me as life moves forward? How will they help me handle the inevitable changes yet to come?
Beyond that, though, I feel an urgency to try something new, to start from scratch on writing something that might turn into another book. I’ve hinted at it here from time to time, I’ve made a few false starts and even have part of a “shitty rough draft.” It’s a topic that fascinates me, that makes me ponder family legacy and how it affects our personalities and the choices we make for our own lives. It’s also about roads not taken, and how our lives are steered by what we don’t do as much as what we do.
But there is much work ahead, and much to think about. I’m reading a lot right now, reading even more memoirs than I usually do (which is saying a lot). But I’m reading them with an eye to form and structure and voice, rather than immersing myself solely in the story. I’m studying books about writing memoir, starting with my friend Beth Kephart’s challenging text Handling the Truth. And it is challenging me - to think and re-think every early assumption I made about this project, with an eye on the “universal question” within which to frame it.
But it’s all good. I’m not in a hurry.
It feels like a hike in the wilderness on a cool spring day. A fresh breeze tingles on my skin, clouds scuttle across the blue sky above, my feet crackle and crunch on the forest path, one step after the next, my gait steady but unhurried. The day is long, there is plenty of sunlight, and much to see and hear. I’m simply enjoying the walk.
That’s what’s next for me.
Writer and artist friends: What’s next for you?