Expiration Dates: Why You Should Write
Everything has an expiration date. No matter what we do to preserve our planet’s diverse species, clean our water, find renewable sources of power, and end reality television… in 4.5 billion years our star will run out of hydrogen. At that moment she will balloon towards the planet, dry our oceans, blow off our magnetic field, shred our atmosphere, and in a last violent expenditure of energy. carry us back into the embrace of her collapse. And even if we were to find a way to renew her fuel source, the entire Milky Way galaxy is on a collision course with Andromeda. So no matter what we do, this fragile planet that so graciously carries us around the sun once every 365 days will simply not exist someday. And I can’t quite take this in—that all the love, all the longing, the stormy gray-green oceans, the ancient mountain ranges thrust skyward as continents crashed, won’t exist forever—These are facts I recognize intellectually—like I recognize my children will most likely live their lives on other continents, that my aging dog must one day die–but these are facts I can’t make sense of emotionally—and that’s why I write.
Not because I think writing will preserve anything, but because synthesizing what we know with our minds but can’t understand with our hearts, is one of the by- products of self- expression. Writers are explorers –observers; always trying to make sense of the incomprehensible. You should be careful around us. We’re always taking notes.
And I teach because it is a way to turn a passion into a profession that is not dependent on the whims of an overworked acquisitions editor who is maybe having a bad day. And teaching is a proud tradition—artists have always had apprentices— those they nurture, guide and encourage. Service is a privilege and my students amaze me again and again with their talent, their alacrity, their responsiveness. They make me want to be a better writer, a better teacher and often, a better human being.
I wrote my book, The Story Within, to reach out to the people I will never meet—writers are always hoping we’re not speaking in an empty room. And to be honest, I’ve published stories and essays for years, but I wanted to put my own work on a shelf, in a bookstore, between two covers, while the opportunity still exists. The world of publishing is changing at an alarming rate. I don’t know how long bookstores are even going to be around.
So I have to confess: I go visit my book at Barnes and Noble from time to time —I take its picture like it is one of my children—as if it too has left home and gone out to makes its fortune, to live its own life in the world.
I hope it outlives me, I hope it inspires some good stories to be written—maybe yours. Your stories are the gravity that hold everything with mass together. Your stories are what connects us.
And maybe, in my heart of hearts, I do think writing them down and sharing them will preserve something of this world.
Join me Saturday April 26th at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD for “Subject and Voice, New Tips”
Or call 301-654-8664 to register