Write (Now) Newsletter – November 2005

WRITE (Now) NEWSLETTER – November 2005

“I learned to make my mind large, like the universe is large, so there is room for paradoxes.”

-Maxine Hong Kingston

Hi Writers:

It’s been just over a month since my niece, Jamey Ax, was diagnosed with metastatic osteosarcoma. In lay terms that’s bone cancer that had spread to her lungs before it was diagnosed. Tomorrow, a team of doctors at Children’s Hospital will amputate her right leg just below the hip.

Jamey is a 22-year old Ohio State University student. Her mother, my sister Amy, was the word processing and graphic design force behind this newsletter until last month when her daughter’s diagnosis cracked our lives wide open. Amy quit her job and let go of her clients to move in with Jamey who requires full-time care. The cancer so weakened Jamey’s femur that it broke and she has been in a cast from above her waist to her toes since September 28th. The doctors had hoped the tumor in her femur would respond to chemotherapy, but it has not.

So what does this have to do with writing?

As a writer I must be awake in the world: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, body, mind. Every sense must be awake to gather the thoughts and sensations that make up experiences. When I’m walking down the broken concrete sidewalk outside Jamey’s apartment or standing in CVS talking to a pharmacist about some medication I’m picking up for her, I need to be awake, to take it all in so that I can write it down later. While I’m driving to the hospital, I need to notice the bright fall sun, the scarlet and russet leaves, and sparkling blue sky. I ask myself, am I present to the experience or has my mind raced ahead?

The writing life is also about making conscious choices. Last month I wrote about saying, “No,” to family and friends in order to make writing time. This month I’ve said, “No,” to clients, colleagues and even the pen itself, instead choosing to be with my niece and sister. Regardless of what I choose, I know I’ve made a choice. The choice is difficult, but it is conscious.

What have you chosen? Was it conscious? If so, honor it. If not, do your best to wake up. I guarantee it will improve your writing, and it may just improve your whole life.

(c)2005 by Nita Sweeney