The title of this post is symbolic of a couple things. First of all, it signifies the last entry of this blog before uploading it to the Net. The reason I didn’t upload it a post at a time (though I wrote it that way) is that I didn’t want my most recent post first, as I hope that each one will build on the one before. Thus someone first encountering “My Life as a Writer” posted serially might drop in at the third or the fifteenth post, not see where I’d come from, and give up trying to make sense of it. In a way it’d be like picking up a book, turning to Chapter Seven and expect to be up to speed. I think it’s better if one starts at the beginning.
The fact that this is the final post doesn’t mean I won’t post again, however. It’s just that at the moment I don’t have much else to say. I don’t want to maunder on about topics that may have little to do with the subject, nor do I want to bore you by repeating myself, though I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that already in my attempt to be clearer about some of the things I’m saying. In any case, I’m talking about the writing rather than letting the writing speak for itself (even though at this point that’s not possible). Maybe someday the books will be out there and there’ll be no need to tell people what they’re about.
The second reason for the title of this post is that I myself am nearing the end of the road. I have cancer. Before you get all sympathetic on me, please understand that I’m content with that. The fact is, about twenty-five years ago I had a discussion with one of my closest friends, and I said then with full conviction that when my work was done—that is, when I’d pretty much said what I’d wanted to say—I would be ready to go. And I began to feel recently that the time was unmistakably approaching, well before the portentous doctor visit. If that visit was to signal that I was on my way out, well, I knew that already. Thus it really made no difference.
While writing my penultimate book, St Jen, I had a strong feeling that time was waning. After all, what more could I say in my writing? I added a brief postscript with my last novel, Land of Fleurs, and now that that’s finished, what’s left for me to do? I feel ready to call it a day. Not out of disappointment as some may be tempted to believe (though I could hardly lack that), but of completing a job well done (in my estimation) and being ready to move on. Thus when the doctor told me his diagnosis, I declined treatment because my own timetable had already been winding down and that’s the call I respond to.
How do I feel about all this? As I said in a much earlier post, I may have been quite lucky in life—I’ve known my purpose from early on and have been able to base my life around that. Many people can’t say this, and I know because I’ve met them. So while I’m understandably not happy about not being published more, I’m content that I did what I felt I was meant to do. My life has been meaningful to me.
Everyone passes away, so there’s no sense lamenting that. I think of all those in history more deserving than me who are now long gone and here I sit, alive and well (so to speak), still able to hear the birds sing and see the sun set. Why shouldn’t I join those departed, and be satisfied to do so? It’s not like I’m 21 and haven’t gotten my kite off the ground yet. In many ways I feel I’ve flown it to the cosmos and back. I’ve seen the unseen, touched the untouched, and had a profusion of little joys along the way. What else can a person ask from life? I’ve had purpose and direction, interest and excitement, and in spite of all the “heartache and pain” that I’ve had in equal measure, I survived it and got the writing done. I can look back, not only with the regrets, but with a sense of satisfaction.
The illness, then, is incidental to, rather than the center of my life. I’m hoping for another six months, so that I might be able to put everything in order (archiving my work) and, for the first time in my life, sit back for a moment and say there’s nothing else I need to do—now for a much-needed break! Time will tell if I’m afforded one. Then let me be the arbiter of my passing. As usual, I do things my own way.
I said much earlier in this blog that all that I’ve written in my life, I’ve written for you. I meant that. If it turns out that it’s like that unwanted gift at Christmas, forgive me for that. I tried to give you what I believed you needed, not what you wanted. So if you don’t like the gift, I’ll accept that. I’ve said many times that I’m not interested in imposing anything on anyone. But I do hope you’ll see the spirit with which it was given, and don’t think less of me because I was such a critic of the times we live in, times you yourself may be satisfied with. It was never you I was criticizing, but only our way of seeing and doing things. I’ll say it one more time, and only because I sincerely mean it—what I did, I did out of love.
© Katry Rain & Keiko Sato