In memoriam

In honor of the passing this last week of author P.D. James, I thought I’d write a few sentences about some writing advice she dispensed. Besides advice like don’t just plan to write – write, and read widely, she also had this advice: Open your mind to new experiences. Nothing that happens to the writer…is ever wasted.

This, I think, is one of the key components to being a writer. It reminds me of a conversation I had last month with someone I do volunteer work with. We were discussing bucket lists and I admitted I had one, but that most of the things on it were travel-related. The person with whom I was speaking said, “Oh, but you already write books.”

So…if you “already write books,” does that mean you can’t have a list of goals you want to accomplish in life? Is it that writing books is already such a rarefied adventure, you couldn’t possibly have anything else you want to do?

The reason the P.D. James quote and the comment stick in my head, I think, is that writers have a tendency to look out at the world a little differently. We’re always looking for more to learn, more to explore, and more to do. Whether it’s taking up a new hobby, listening to books on tape, attending lectures, traveling, or engaging in volunteerism, writers seem to manage to fill their lives with, yes, jobs and kids and housework, but also so many other things that water the soul and grow the raw materials for plots and characters. Other people know this, and for whatever reason, rate it more highly than whatever it is they’re doing in their life.

Whether you write or not, I hope, for 2015, you figure out what waters your soul, and you go out and do it. Life is so much more interesting when you can chart your own course toward something that engages you. And none of it is ever wasted, even if you’re not a writer.


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