Writers write

Recently I seem to have had several conversations with family and non-writing friends who wonder why I write even when I don't have a contract in hand when I could be doing something "fun" like visit them. I've been known to say: "Writers write; everyone else makes excuses." This prompts some unpublished writers to present me with eloquent discourses on the demands on contemporary women and usually concludes with them saying they want to write, but they don't have time. I listen to all the commentary, but deep in my heart I wonder if what mystery author Sharyn McCrumb said about the subject is true: “I just don't believe it. All they're doing is validating my advice in that they are making excuses.”

Since I wouldn't want anyone to use my personal motto as a reason to feel guilty for not writing and because I basically am a non-confrontational person, I decided to elaborate in writing (also I think better on paper, so to speak).

Yes, sometimes real life does interfere, and we can't write. Our creative energy is consumed by the need for surviving the tragedies in our lives. I know that during the year before my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, I was so completely caught up in the confusion and tragic circumstances of each day's downward spiral that I could hardly write my name, much less an article, essay, or part of a book. The same has been true of much of the last decade with my daughter's health issues and more life excrement than anyone should have to handle. I doubt I'd have written another word if I hadn't realized that writing can be an escape from life's harsh reality. Every chance I could, I slipped into another world where I could make things come out right. I kept writing and finished five books even though I didn't have the time or energy to submit them. So let me give you some advice that may help you through "normal" or tragic times.

If we're lucky, we all have a "normal" life of errands, children, chores, and other responsibilities and pleasures. Prior to the publication of my first novel, I agonized over the fact that I didn't have time to write because of the housework, the volunteer activities I was involved in, the responsibilities of four children, and the delightful demands of a loving husband who wanted time with me. Sometimes I felt as if I'd given everyone and everything a part of me until there was nothing left for me! How on earth could I find the time to write? I hardly had the time to breathe!

One day, I sat back and realized that those demands on my time were not decreasing, but increasing with each month that passed. Often, I wondered if I'd ever have the time or energy to write the books I wanted to write.

Time has a way of slipping away. We waste minutes here, an hour there. You must realize that it takes time to make a dream come true. Minutes add up to hours, and hours add up to days. Don’t wait to make time - use the time you have.

You can begin slowly the way I did. Set aside a definite time of the day that will be writing time. Years ago during that time, it was my husband's responsibility to handle everything. If one of the kids wanted something, they knew to go ask Daddy. It wasn't easy, but over a period of time I trained them to respect Mother's writing time.

I personally think that it is probably harder for a woman to succeed than a man. Men go to their job and come home and, generally speaking, believe they have fulfilled their duties for the day. But women! We may devote the same number of hours to an outside job, but we aren't finished when we get home. There are meals to cook, kids to bond with, chores to be done. We see the dust on the dining table; we feel the loads of laundry in the hamper as if they were strapped to our backs. We know the unpaid bills and the letters to be answered are probably going to be done by us. Then there are the thousands of other details that inevitably wind up in our lap.

However, if you want something - if you truly want it with every breath in your body - then you will find a way to negotiate with your family for the time to make your dream come true. That's what "Writers write; everyone else makes excuses," means.

We find those compromises that we can live with. We negotiate with spouse and children for the uninterrupted time to write. We organize our lives to make writing possible in the spare minutes by putting a flashlight on the bedside table next to a notebook. We carry a recorder during the commute downtown or on the carpool to soccer. We plan our days and nights. We cook massive quantities of food that we can divide up to freeze so there's always something for dinner. We teach the kids and hubby how to use of the washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher, the microwave, and other necessary appliances. All my kids can put a meal on the table, take care of laundry and ironing, and clean a house. Children can be responsible and self-reliant if they are trained to be.

Raise your children to know that mother's writing time - whether fifteen minutes or longer - is sacred. My personal motto was created by me as a reminder that we always make priority for the important things in life and that writing should be a priority - right up there with family, God, and country (sorry, but I'm terribly old-fashioned). It's not another means of heaping guilt on ourselves because we aren't writing. It's merely my reminder that where there's a will, there's a way.

No comments:

Post a Comment