It wasn't enough.
And in 1984, when my home caught fire on a harsh subzero December night, one of the unexpected benefits of losing all our possessions was the ashing of a couple of really bad novel manuscripts, as well as old poems written more to please myself than to reach out to others.
Today, I'd say there are three things that keep me writing:
- Seeking fresh experiences. Some are small and almost routine, like climbing the ridge here and asking questions about the plants and animals and weather along the way. Some are life-shifting, like a course in how character development meshes with plot, or an afternoon spent listening to poets read their work aloud and talk about how their writing connects with what they want to give or receive.
- Making lists. I know that sounds odd, but there are many moments—a muggy afternoon, a frustrated morning, a tired evening—when I don't actually itch to sit down and write. Having a list of what I expect from myself helps a lot. And if I can't summon up the energy and enthusiasm for item #1, I may find it's still a good moment for item #4.
- A place that's intended for writing.
What about luck?
Six full-length books came to life in this room, and five of them have publishers. (I haven't given up on the sixth and I'm still revising it.) If luck is a matter of considering the odds, this place has been lucky for me. I suspect it will give the same kind of track record to the next person who jumps into creative labor here.
But I'd rather say that "luck" is a shorthand for the results of something else: Long-term love. From the quilt on the wall to the seashells to the paintings and to the quotations treasured, and even the computer here, most of what surrounds me is evidence of love ... from my husband, sons, brothers and sisters-in-law and sister, friends, and colleagues. (And that Higher Power.)
I know there's a New Family who'll discover this house and its blessings sometime soon, and I'll move on to a smaller place and my own next chapter. Maybe they'll move here because they already love the place, its many rooms, wide vistas, ample gardens, eager apple trees.
Maybe they'll fill it with their own love. And get lucky.
[Here's the link for the house.]