What would you do if you couldn’t write?

As a writer — someone who not only loves writing and reading, but spends most of her day doing it — I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose all ability to write.

Most people worry about losing their job or being robbed, and I worry about those things, too. But occasionally I fear that I’ll go blind, or lose the use of my hands, and I won’t be able to write the way I’m used to — the way that’s personal and intimate, a one-way current from my brain straight to the paper or computer screen.

I shudder to think of it.

For Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who gave the world novels like the controversial The General in His Labyrinth (which was called “anti-patriotic” when published in Colombia) and the famousĀ One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, that nightmare is his reality.

Dementia runs in the family, the author’s younger brother Jaime Garcia Marquez told the Guardian, and Gabriel is recovering from cancer. The entirety of it has taken a toll on his mind.

“Chemotherapy saved his life, but it also destroyed many neurons, many defenses and cells, and accelerated the process,” Jaime said. “But he still has the humor, joy, and enthusiasm that he has always had.”

Gabriel has written a memoir called Living to Tell the Tale, meant to be the first in a series, but his brother is afraid he won’t be able to finish.

“He has problems with his memory,” Jaime said. “Sometimes I cry because I feel like I’m losing him.”

How would you feel if you were in either of the brothers’ situations? How would you find new purpose if you couldn’t write or read?

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2 thoughts on “What would you do if you couldn’t write?

  1. oh, the comment from his brother is just heart-breaking. i often think that i have to get the ideas out of my head before i lose the ability to do so or before lightning strikes me dead. i waited so long to start pursuing my dream of being a writer, that i think “what if i waited too long?” all the time. my older writer friends just roll their eyes at me. it must be a typical younger person’s fear, but still…i can think of fewer sad things than to be locked up in your mind or to lose control of your mind completely.

    • Thanks for your comment, Valerie. It is very heart-breaking. I think writing in general is a difficult beast when it comes to age — you’re too young, and you don’t have a lot of wisdom to pass on, but the older you get, the less time you have. It’s a hard balance to strike.

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