Q Why is this website called “Carrying on”?
Carrying on is what storytellers do when they get going and can’t stop. Carrying on is what grandkids do that creates a din in the living room. Carrying on is what people do when they’re mad or when they have a powerful sense of purpose or when they pick themselves up and keep going. Carrying on is what people lucky enough to live into the upper atmospheres of their lives get to do.
Q But how does a website have anything to do with carrying on?
“Carrying on” is a prompt to keep me writing, to help me get down to it. Writing is a thread that winds through all the messiness and many directions of the work I’m doing now and have done in the past. Writing has been a way to plan, reflect, report, ruminate, try to understand myself and the world, and make my thoughts hold still before they meander off.
“Carrying on” is a gentle but clear commitment to write. There’s nothing easier than procrastinating when a tough writing puzzle awaits – there are always dishes to do, doctor’s appointments to make (more, it seems, as the years go by), correspondence from friends to answer, errands to run, bills to pay, someone else’s deadline to meet. The truth of Thomas Mann’s words become clearer every day. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
“Carrying on” is meant to take advantage of what might otherwise be an unfortunate personal trait: I’m much more likely to keep a commitment made to others than one made only to myself. It’s partly out of a desire to strengthen this commitment that I maintain a list of friends, family, and colleagues to whom I report when I’ve added three or four new pieces about once a month. Unwittingly, they – that is, you – are holding me accountable. I’m grateful for your help, whether you know you’re giving it or not.
“Carrying on” gives me deadlines. The end of every month comes with a little shove, becomes a kind of deadline. I feel pressure from my writing-soul when a whole month goes by without my having added anything new. If you’ve been getting these updates, you might notice how often they arrive on the last day of the month. (If you’re not getting them, but would like to, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“Carrying on” is a place to put writing that’s meant to be read by others. I’m writing in public.
“Carrying on” is a place to put some of what’s on my mind right now. And it’s also a place to put pieces I’ve written in the past that didn’t quite get finished, or need revision, or didn’t have a way into the world. A long trail of half- and almost-completed pieces fill paper and digital folders, and I have many little books full of ideas I want to explore by writing about them.
“Carrying on” may become something of an anthology.
“Carrying on” reminds me that for years I’ve said, “I’ll write about that some day.” I remember my mother saying the same thing. But she never had the chance.
With “Carrying on,” I ask myself, If not now, when?
Postscript: I’m thinking I should aspire to all of Mr. Roget’s synonyms as I keep on carrying on.
“Carrying on” is part of the Jini Dellaccio Project,
a fiscally-sponsored project of Artist Trust.
When I was home last September my mother at 91 years lamented, “I wish I had written a book…to remember all that was said.” Her sister had just visited and her memory was waning. “Carrying on” seems very wise. My mother was always good with words too.
Thanks for your story, Judith! I’m so happy you shared memories of your own mother. Mine had often said she wanted to write, so my brothers and I got together and bought her an electric, easy-to-use typewriter for her 70th birthday. She’d always been an amazing typist. At the time, though, we didn’t really see that her dementia was probably already underway. Not only was the machine a little baffling, her memories didn’t hold still. I don’t think she ever touched it. Have you been writing?