A repost from the archives.
I met Trudy almost 13 years ago. We’ve had just a handful of encounters since then, only a few with actual conversation. Yet our exchanges are firmly etched in my memory, probably because they are all pretty much the same.
The first was in 1995, a few months after we’d been introduced. She’d learned I was a writer and was curious.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” she said, going on to detail an idea for a collection of stories based on memories of her father.
I listened with interest. She wasn’t sure whether she’d want to write them for publication or just to have as a keepsake for her children, but she thought they were valuable and worth recording. I agreed.
She was full of questions and concerns about the world of writing: Should I be thinking in terms of a collection of stories or a novel? Perhaps a series of books? Should I talk about my idea with a publisher before I write? Or do I write first, then try to sell my work? That seems like it could be an awful waste of time. I wonder if I need a better computer. I’ve heard it’s impossible to get something published without an agent, but how would I find one?
“Have you written any of it yet?” I asked.
I encouraged her to set aside her concerns about novels, collections, agents, etc., and focus on capturing some of her thoughts in writing.
“Choose any ONE of the memories you just mentioned to me and try to get it down on paper, from start to finish. Don’t try to make it perfect. Just get it all down. You can edit later.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” she said.
A year passed before our paths crossed again.
“Are you still writing?” she asked.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” she said, and we had a conversation almost identical to the first one.
About 18 months later, it happened again. Same conversation, third time around.
Trudy’s story haunts me at times, I guess because of my own Trudy-tendencies. I often prefer to remain in the ‘musing about things’ state, even after my next step is shown to be smack in front of me.