I am reading the book The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. It’s a wild honest book about being a writer. I just read a particularly piercing question Dillard asks as a way to come at writing, and I wanted to share it with you because it could frame and focus a whole life:
“What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon?”
Dillard says to write as if you were dying, and she asks this question that I don’t believe any writer could ever really read without opening up a wide gaping pause after it.
But I think this question is begging to be made bigger:
“What would you begin doing if you knew you would die soon?”
Of course this is an age-old question—I am not the first one to ask it. But sometimes it gets tossed around, in one ear, out the other, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll think about that when I’m retired.”
But if you ask it, and ask it again, and do all you can to remember to keep asking it (every day, every hour, every minute), I believe your whole life will come into such clear, laser-beam focus that all you will be able to do is bow.
Thank you Annie Dillard.