(Introducing guest blogger, Sydney Stevens a history writer who also publishes a daily blog about life in a small community. I hope my readers might enjoy a change of pace and meet a wonderful blogger. www.sydneyofoysterville.com)
Yesterday my husband and I went with good friends on half a double date. It was a first for all of us and their choice. We met at the appointed time and found that they wanted to sit separately – the two women in one part of the restaurant and the men in another. Way separately! When the waitress figured it out, I loved it – especially when we told her to give our check to the guys.
The reason for this unusual arrangement turned out to be fairly straightforward. The distaff half of our lunch date wanted to talk to me about writing and she thought, no doubt correctly, that our spouses would be bored. Since we never seem to find time to get together on our own, this was her solution. It worked perfectly.
Right off the bat, she asked me what I was working on and what my future plans were. I told her that my new book with History Press, Jailhouse Stories from Early Pacific County, is due out in June, that I have two manuscripts about ready to submit and that I’m thinking about cherry-picking some of my “Oysterville Daybook” blogs to form a composite, year-long memoir. While we (make that mostly I) talked, we ordered small chicken Caesar salads and a drink.
When I, in turn, asked her what she was doing her answer came as a surprise. “Nothing,” she said. “I’m through.” At my disbelief, she continued, “No, really. I know there are writers and illustrators [she is both] who say they are eager to work forever. That’s just not me. The thought of even picking up a paintbrush or a pen is abhorrent. I’m through. I have nothing more to say.”
“I always have more to say,” I said and we laughed as we both looked at our plates – hers empty, mine still heaped with salad. It was obvious which of us had done the most talking. “But what will you do?” I asked. And I hated that I sounded so beseeching.
“Whatever occurs to me. Whatever it is that other people do. It just won’t involve writing or drawing. That chapter is over.”
Though I tried to understand, I felt stricken. I couldn’t really wrap my head around her having “nothing more to say.” This award-winning (many times) writer/illustrator of dozens of beloved children’s books? How could she possibly be dry of ideas? And, hard on the heels of that thought came the guilt. Who am I to demand more of this gifted woman who has given so much already? And why isn’t it all right to be “done?”
I was suddenly put in mind of several of my own fans who push me to write a novel. “It’s just not in me,” I tell them. “I write non-fiction.” They don’t really get it. Just like I don’t really get my friend being ‘done.’ I guess, like everything else, it’s just a matter of perspective. Like what is it, exactly that constitutes a double date?
(Originally published 5/11/15)