Like Phillip Roth, Alice Munro, short story writer and winner of many literary awards, has decided to retire her pen at the age of 82. She’s not doing it because she’s run out of ideas, even though she’s been scribbling for 40 years. She’s retiring because she wants to leave the solitary life of a writer. She wants to become more social. (“Author of the week” The Week, July 19, 2013, pg. 22)
Like others, I wish her well in her new adventure and understand that as we age, we seek the warming comfort of others. Still, I can’t help observing that as writers our paths have been remarkably divergent. For most of my life, I’ve been immersed in working with others: as a teacher, as a union organizer and as a politician. In my twilight years, I welcome the solitude writing affords and the opportunity to step back and make sense of all that I’ve learned either consciously or unconsciously. I find it hard to think of a creative existence lived the other way around. What would I have had to say in my twenties or thirties? What would I have experienced?
Munro did find the words and did capture important human moments. As a young writer, perhaps she could hear life’s pulse better than I can now, one who listens with an age-deafened ear. I do admit, that viewing life in the rear view mirror may seem like a little knowledge gained too late. I wonder if I have anything relevant to say. Time will tell. The question is, do I have enough of it?
(Courtesy of www.317am.net)