This isn't the somber speech from the podium. This is what I'd say if we were out and it got late and I was feeling beaten. I'd start by talking about my own personal failings. I'd talk about losses. I'd explain why writing is always a lesson in failure. I would tell you that I get weary. I'd say that the daily practice of empathy has been harder than I thought, and that the fertile field of childhood and memory is booby-trapped with landmines.
I might go on a short tear about Cal Ripken -- not missing games. I might say that I love the writing equivalent of the freshly mowed outfield, the well oiled glove, the snap of the ball in warm-ups. I might say what I really want in my writing career: just don't take me off the field.
I might say I'm no Kevin Spacey and not bother to explain it.
But then I would clap you on the shoulder. I would tell you the truth. This is hard work. We feed it. It feeds us. It's part-disease, part-cure. I would offer no hope except that -- in the end -- it turns out to have been more cure than disease. But I'd whisper that I love this writerly disease. It's come to define me. How would I even recognize myself without all of the words in my head, abuzz in my chest? I'd feel gutted.
I would tell you that I'm proud of you -- word upon word, hour upon hour, day upon day.
I'd say: You don't need me anymore. It's all inside of you. Keep going.