The Retiring Writer

It's old news by now, but Margaret Drabble has decided to retire from writing. Yep. She says she's stopping completely because she is afraid of repeating herself.

I wonder how that's been working for her for the past few months.

I've spent more years of my life as a non-writing writer than otherwise, and I can tell you, it sucks. Characters float into your mind--and die. Settings prick at your awareness--then fade away. Conflicts beat at your breastbone, but your heart slows, your attention shifts and you're back to "reality." The pain of non-writing is subtle, and ever-present: That underlying itch of frustration (and depression) that you can't breathe away in yoga class, organize away in your latest "Rule The World In Seven Easy Steps" seminar, or buy away at the shoe store.

I've quit writing before, and I keep coming back. I think, as I stare down the maw of 40 years, I've finally accepted that I must write, always. They'll have to pry the word-processing software out of my cold, dead eyeball-socket-neuralnet connections when they shoot my body into deep space.

And as for repeating oneself--I've been doing that for years. I was once told, "There are only two stories--'A stranger comes to town' and 'the quest'." I think those are, in fact, the same story.

I already know which story I'll be telling for the rest of my life: Leap, and love will catch you.

What about you? What is your core story? And what would it take to make you "retire" from writing?