Friday, September 25, 2009
Now that summer is officially over, I have to say it was a very productive one for me as a writer.
I completed my second short play and the first draft of a book (treatment/possible screenplay down the road). I usually only write screenplays, but I'm trying my hand at other markets and styles -- this year I wrote television news copy for New York City news anchors and for a website -- so it's been all about stretching new muscles creatively. Stepping out of our comfort zone -- whether it's writing a novel, or non-fiction, or a play, or a script, or a short story -- all take time and courage. It's important to try new things along the way.
The last few weeks I've visited with lots of family and friends. When the hot weather turns cooler, everyone wants to "get together" for that last BBQ, picnic, summer movie or dinner date. I've been so diligent about writing every day (except on weekends), that when I go into "social mode" it makes me feel a little guilty because I'm not working on my projects.
Well, this morning I attended a funeral for a lovely woman of 93. Her name was Phoebe Fleisher and she's my second cousin's mother-in-law. I didn't know her, but I know Phoebe's daughter Doris and she's a sweetheart of a person. The funeral was a celebration of this woman's dynamic life. Phoebe served for 50 years in the Salvation Army here in New York City. She served at her church on Sundays and throughout the year for special events. Friends spoke at the service and said Phoebe never forgot their birthdays and always had the card in the mail early (enclosing a book of U.S. stamps as a gift). She raised two fabulous daughters and many grandchildren. She enjoyed life and always offered a hand to a neighbor in need. One woman at the service had by chance moved into Phoebe's building years ago... and it was a blessing to this woman because she said she desperately needed a stranger's kindness and Phoebe offered it generously.
As I walked home from the funeral this morning, I thought about Phoebe. And, I thought about my own life. I shouldn't feel guilty if I take time away from writing to visit a friend, or attend a party, or meet a relative for a Broadway show. That's what life is all about -- connecting, sharing and loving. That's not to say we get to skip our work commitment, but we can't become so self-absorbed to lose precious times and days with our loved ones and friends. Our characters are fictional -- our family and friends are real.
I think we become better writers by being out in the world as well as parked at our desks.
Thanks, Phoebe, for that reminder.