Write like you are dying? What?
Recently, I attended a beautiful, uplifting memorial service for a friend close to my age. Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying accompanied one poignant video celebrating his life: his true love, his children, and his passion for adventure.
Each time I am present to wish a person safe passage to wherever they go when they leave here, reality taps my shoulder—is it the left one, where the Grim Reaper hangs out? I forget.
Someday, I will die. Worse, my “people” will die.
Taking Tim McGraw’s words a step further, which I tend to do, shouldn’t I also write as if I were dying? Meaning, write as if that story, novel, paragraph, or blog post could be the last time I represent myself on this planet, in this particular universe.
Seems I am in a rush, like most folks, bunching experiences without pausing to feel, to absorb.
My generation never particularly warmed to “selfie”-satisfaction. If you spend every pivotal moment grinning into the smartphone screen with a scene behind you, I urge you to put the dang device down. Turn around. See, feel, smell, and immerse yourself in the place and time. Later, you won’t need that selfie to recall what you saw. Better, you will add to a wealth of sensations to juice up your art, and your life. For once, you will be smarter than that phone.
Hold up a sec. I need to stop and listen to some Motown. Lift myself from the sadness that drapes me each time I ponder mortality.
There. Better. Fast-paced music does that for me.
Now, where was I headed with this dissertation?
Writing as if I were dying.
· Producing a chunk of work to be proud of, to leave behind if it is indeed the final snippet.
· Necessary revisions after the new-love blush of the first draft.
· Proofing and polishing until the result glows.
· Finding experts for information when your personal experience is lacking. Don’t rely on Google exclusively.
· Producing the best work possible. Not perfect—even the top books have an occasional typo. Those pests are eventually routed to the door. But sound—something worthy of being the last great work.
To my friend, I wish you joy wherever your spirit travels. Thank you for the reminder to live, and write, as if I am dying.
Rhett DeVane, southern fiction author and blog master