I have had the pleasure of following Marion Dane Bauer’s blog, Just Thinking, over the last year. If you are not following it you should – such wise words on writing, teaching and life. Her last two posts are reflections on writing and aging. She and her readers are discussing that focus or urgency in later years to take on the projects or the writing that is most important to them.
Having recently retired I am seeking a place of quiet, reflection and yet feel the need to engage in something new. I was thinking about a legacy project. What is it that I leave behind?
As a teacher my artistry was in process and not product. Not something you can see so easily. My work moved through the lives of children and families. I know I made a difference, I can see it in the students who connect with me on Face Book, the teachers who connect now and again for information on teaching. I can feel it as I talk with young teachers – I know this territory well.
But now I am leaving that terrain and will begin a new project. I urgently thought I must write a book. I have always wanted to do this and now I must hurry. I must complete this “legacy project.” I was seeking a product to place on the shelf, to say this is what I have done.
You know that is not what it is about, I realized. I don’t need to write to show, to produce. I don’t need a legacy project. I now need to write to understand, to focus my thinking on what I have learned, to find my story.
Marion helped me bring focus to this with her recent comment –
“I’m not even thinking about whether this particular project will be published. Instead I’m simply reaching into myself, into that place where language begins, where story resides, and pulling out whatever I find there.”
So now at 60 + years I can step into the role of a writer with more ease and focus. I am not naive enough at this age to think I will become a published author and yet writing seems to call. I will continue to dance around this art form connecting with writers, books, illustrators, designs. They are the people who give me energy. They help me focus but I also know now that this project is for me!
Thanks Marion for helping me focus!