In a writing conference last year, one presenter offered this piece of advice: “After you think you’re finished you novel, put it in a drawer for a year. Take it out and you’ll find the weaknesses.” Excellent advice. IF you’re twenty-two. I’m not. I don’t have a year to put my novel in a drawer.
My sense of urgency grows exponentially as I age. I was at the doctor’s recently, waiting. After almost an hour after my scheduled appointment time, I went to the window and was told the doctor had an emergency and was running late.
That’s fine. Some day, I’ll have my emergency and someone else will have to wait. “When do you think he’ll be available?” I asked. “Should I reschedule?”
“Let’s just wait and see. He’s seeing patients now, but I put you at the end of the list. You’re retired, so you don’t have the same commitments and have more time to wait.”
I blew a gasket. “I’m seventy-three. How old are you?”
“You’re about half my age. You have more time left than I do. Just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I don’t have things to do. I have only a few years left and you want me to waste them sitting in this office. No. I’ll re-schedule, go home, and get on with what I need to get done while I still have the time.”
The young assistant was amazed, flapped her gums, didn’t know what to say. After a few minutes, she gave me a new appointment, which she “fitted in” as a favor, since the doctor didn’t have another opening for some months.
It’s all part of the same problem. From my end, the urgency grows. How long will I be “compos mentis”? Physically able? Which will go first? How long do I have to write? I waited a lifetime to retire and write full-time, thanks to family obligations and other limitations, all of which I accepted, many of which I enjoyed. But when I got to the point where I could realize my dream, I also realized that I should have taken a harder road and done it sooner.
No point in regrets, but there’s no way I’m wasting my time in a doctor’s office or putting my novel in a drawer for a year. I’m getting on with my writing. Now.