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[THE WRITER'S LIFE] Writer's Box
Contributor
Written by
Cindy Eastman
August 2017
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Cindy Eastman
August 2017
Writing

In an effort to clock some writing time in this morning, eked in between all the new responsibilities since my dad came to live with us, I opened up my Dropbox folder to see which of dozens of unfinished essays I could complete. I scrolled through the filenames--they’re all oh-so clever--and found many of which I could remember beginning. Each time I settled on one, I thought to myself, “Oh, this is a good one...I’ll finish this one!”

And each time I opened the file, it was blank. Or at least as close to blank as it could be. This happened at least seven times. Maybe it had a title. Maybe even a couple of notes. A web link. Other than that? Nothing. Zip. Nada. They were as blank as the look on my face when I realized I hadn’t written a thing about any of the keen and humorous topics that I resolutely saved in my Dropbox. My intentions are always true: If I get struck with a great idea or want to sort through an issue or current event, I open up a new document and start writing. Sometimes, I can dump most of my thoughts onto the page, but more often than not, I’m squeezing in some writing before I have to go fix lunch or pick up prescriptions. I tell myself that I’ll just jot down my ideas and come back to them. Later. I save the file, tuck it away in Dropbox and leave my computer happily, trusting that the next time I come back, I’ll have a fresh new essay to post and all I have to do is finish it up!

 

Yeah. Right.

The problem, besides my overtaxed memory, is that Dropbox is the new dump file. I still have an actual one of those, don’t you? That jam-packed manila accordion folder with articles surreptitiously torn from the gynecologist’s waiting room magazines and the great idea for a short story written on the back of a grocery list? Completed and printed out stories that have an editor’s rejection stapled to it or a heavily edited version of something that never saw the light of Wordpress. Once something was filed into that folder, brilliantly labeled “Writing,” too often it was the last I saw of it. Sorting through the notes and articles and lists now serves only to remind me that I’ve been at this method for a very long time. And even if I could remember what profound information I intended to impart via my skillful wordsmithing, no one is really interested in President-Elect Bush or an amusing little piece on the ABCs of Divorce. (Are you? Because I could tighten it up a little, maybe send it off to a few websites. It’s adorable.)

I suppose I am destined to have an unplumbed cavern of great ideas, fascinating commentaries and introspective essays that are the legacy of a creative mind. Teachers can’t teach every kid, fisherman can’t catch all the fish, nurses can’t cure all the people, and writers can’t write every word. We can try; and we can drop our ideas into a box in an effort to save them, nurture them, come back to them. These are tangible ideas I once had. I can pick them up, leaf through them and try and remember what made me save this note or that headline. Rather than seeing this collection as a breakdown in commitment, maybe I can switch it around; change my view to see the list of filenames and stacks of scraps of paper as evidence of devotion to my work.

Writers are not consigned to a finite number of words--we seek out new words every day to coax into other stories, essays, and poems. This pursuit, I think, is the writer’s charge and our early ephemera is groundwork for a creative path. That I, for one, will always be on. 

I'm going to need a bigger box. 

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