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Inspiration - Jim Harrison (1937 - 2016)

If you read this blog regularly or follow my book reviews, you know I am a huge fan of Jim Harrison who passed away Saturday. The New Yorker has a beautifully written postscript here. It says - and I have no way to verify - that he literally died at his writing desk.

Jim Harrison casts an enormous shadow in my life. I am deeply enamored of his poetry, his thoughts on time and on what life means. He lived with gusto, not a word I use often but the only word that can describe how he lived. Passionately. In his introduction to the collected poems of Tom Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything (and let's be real - if Jim Harrison writes the introduction to your collected poems I pay attention), he says, "Though I don't teach I often get sought for advice from young poets. I say I don't have time for you unless you're going to give your life to it. That's what it takes."

When I was eight years old, I proudly announced to my parents that I would be a writer. Since then, writing has come and gone and come back in my life. I've never truly devoted myself to it. I have let myself be distracted. Told myself I'd come back when I was more (financially) secure. Yet I keep coming back. I had hoped that staying home with Zim would give me more time to write. In fact, it has given me less. She consumes so much time and energy. That's not a complaint; it's a statement of how little I knew going in.

There are drafts of three terrible novels at home gathering dust. They are countless false starts, notes, scribbles, and ideas. But I keep coming back to it. I keep being unwilling to "give my life to it," but I can't imagine life without it. I am better when I write. Life is fuller.

So Jim Harrison's final lesson to me is a simple one and the one perhaps his whole life is a testament to: Get to work.


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