Somewhere buried in all these boxes and piles of assorted things — notebooks, office supplies, a random sock, photographs — lies the cold remains of an unfinished manuscript.
It might be found on one of these four external hard drives. None of them are plugged in, and if they were, I couldn’t use them because the family iMac is missing its Bluetooth mouse and there for no one can navigate the jumbled mess of icons that is the desktop screen.
And so the unfinished manuscript waits. Meanwhile, since my family a few weeks ago just moved into a new home, much remains to be done to make the house livable, to return the lives of me, my wife, and our three boys into our normal, comfortable routines.
The idea of the unfinished manuscript never fully dissipated. It occasionally like thin wisps of cloud sweeps into the ravine of my mind as I’m putting clothes away or pouring my third cup of morning coffee or driving home from work in the red tail light traffic illuminating the evening commute.
Then its gone. And my life continues on having never answered a recurring questions — Are you ever going to try to write that memoir again?
TRY AND TRY AND THEN WHAT?
For the better part of three years, I intensely attempted to write a memoir, taking potential readers through the real life effort to discover who my father’s mother was and whether we could ever reunite them.
I made the mistake of telling everybody I was writing it. I even had a title of which I was immensely proud — Maintenance of Way. It’s a railroad term, commonly referring to the department and the employees in charge of maintaining and building track, people like my Dad.
Try and try. Write every day. Share my progress. Share parts of the story on social. But inevitably, I would fail to finish every time.
Can’t explain it. I just never made it to the end.
And then, 2019 happened.
A LESSON FOR ANY WRITER TO UNDERSTAND
Never have I experienced a year like this, 2019. I turned 40, celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, started two jobs, and in June, my wife and I welcomed our third son into the world. Then we sold our house, bought this new one, moved, and now here we are.
Here I am. Where’s the manuscript?
Perhaps more importantly, where’s the motivation to pick up the manuscript and try again?
Life may not have to stand in the way of writing a book, but at this time with a full-time job, an hour-long commute morning and evening, three wonderful boys who need their father every day, coaching youth sports, maintaining this wonderful new home and property, it might just be time to admit something.
Finding time is really, really hard.
And perhaps that’s how it should be, that finding time to write should be hard because if you find a pocket of it, then you’re less likely to take it for granted. Urgency can fuel creativity.
There I might find the lesson that eluded me all those years I tried to write the manuscript. There’s no more time left to take for granted, and so let the urgency propel the writer forward.
Let’s start again.
Dave Pidgeon is an experienced writer and photographer whose work has for the last 19 years appeared in local, regional, and national publications. He lives in Lancaster, Pa., with his wife, Alison, and their three sons.