"Blink and they'll all be ghosts. Blink and they'll all be gone."- LaCroix, Forever Knight
April was a difficult month for my family. I'm already written about my paternal grandmother passing away and two weeks before that, my mother's brother died of complications from an early onset Alzheimer's-like illness. Also, this month, my mother learned that her cousin has stage 4 cancer. It has been a stressful, sad month.
My manager hasn't had it much easier-- his father had to undergo surgery for a malignant tumor that they found in his intestine, his pregnant sister lost her baby at eight months, and while his sister was speaking with a 46 year old neighbor the other day, that neighbor dropped dead on the spot from a brain aneurysm.
All of this death and illness really forced me to look at my own mortality and choices. Truth: we're all dying. It's just that most of us don't know our expiration dates. Even if you do make it to old age, time moves by so fast that you barely have a chance to register it before it's gone. One day, you can wake up and suddenly you're ninety and wondering where all of the years went.
Death is scary. Realizing how short our time is on this planet can be motivating and inspirational.
If you only have a few more months (or years, depending on how fast you write/edit) to live, is what you are writing or editing the book that you would write? Are you writing the book that you were meant to write? Is this your swan song?
I'm not talking about writing the next War and Peace or Great American Novel... but about writing your great novel. Is what you are writing right now the last thing you ever want to write? Because if it's not, maybe you need to rethink that decision. At the conferences, they tell us not to write to trend, but rather to write for ourselves. Are you writing for yourself?
Because, if you're not, you could be missing your only chance.
As I re-revise my first MS (thanks to all that I learned in the Poconos), I keep asking myself these questions. I'm not the Great American Novel type. I'm a cute boys and magic kind-of girl. A place-as-character writer. The Desired is a love letter to the parts of Portugal and the fairytales and legends that I've loved since I was a little girl. And, while I tighten and cut and add, I find myself peppering that love and mystery throughout the story. Is this good enough to be my swan song? I don't know. But I love the story enough to try.
Don't blink. Write as if this is your last book, page, paragraph, sentence. We owe ourselves that much.