I used to play golf with a well-known Chicago journalist who had retired.
Retired! Not just from his journalism job, but from writing altogether.
That puzzled and haunted me—enough, honestly, that I stopped calling him to play. Would you want to play golf with a guy who told you he doesn't think anymore? Doesn't care for music anymore? Quit drinking, because it bored him and stopped eating because he no longer saw the point? (But still played golf?!)
The writer Jim Harrison died at 78 this week, the way writers are supposed to do. From his writer friend Philip Caputo’s Facebook tribute:
My wife, Leslie, and I got a call tonight (March 26) from Dr. Alfredo Guevara (a mutual friend) informing us of Jim's death. He was at Harrison's old adobe house on Sonoita Creek, to where he'd been summoned to confirm the death. Also there was Jim's friend and right-hand man, Abel Murietta. [Dr. Guevera] asked us to come over and say goodbye to Jim before his remains were taken away. That we did. We found him on the floor of his study, where he'd fallen from his chair, apparently from a heart attack. He'd died a poet's death, literally with a pen in his hand, while writing a new poem.
(And wondering, no doubt, whether it was any good.)
That's how a writer is supposed to go.
That's how I'd like to go.