According to the Pimsleur Advanced Spanish Conversation CD, the proper way to ask people what sort of work they do is “¿A qué se dedica?”
This phrase has been running through my mind all week. I wonder to what I will dedicate myself in this new stage of my life, after I have held my final garage sale and moved with my little motorhome to Miami for the winter.
Why the change? What moved me to spend the price of a small condo on a 21st century version of the old hippie VW bus and begin the process of de-thinging my life? The answer is that two feelings predominated the long, long grey Oregon winter: I was too cold and I was too possessed by my possessions.
So to what will I dedicate the coming winter, now that all my energy won’t be taken up with complaining about the weather?
This could be a time for work on the Great American Unfinished Novel (which at this rate will be classified as historical fiction), or on the folder of Great American Unfinished Short Stories, perhaps adding some plot twists to the myriad versions of one particular never-ending story that I’ve been working on for 30 years.
I’m looking forward to those projects, mostly because all the tedious work has already been done. I’m not a facile writer, but I think I was born an editor.
A writer is not painting a picture, which is flat. The best writing resembles sculpture. Sculpture is arrived at in one of two basic ways: material is added, as in clay modeling, or material is removed, as in work with marble. To me, the best writing is subtractive. Editing the written word is like cutting a diamond, reducing the lumpy brown rock of your prose to the smallest possible example of clarity and symmetry.
And so I’m writing this blog not to amuse or amaze some imagined legion of followers, but to flex my writing muscles, to get back to the habit of applying butt to chair until my words please me. To become familiar again with the heft of that hammer, and to keep chipping away at those stones.