It’s staring me in the face.
After months of not writing no matter how much I beat myself up, promise myself I’ll do it tomorrow, set unrealistic goals and timetables …
I’ll never write if I keep going the way I am.
I have done almost no writing for? twelve months? longer? I can’t blame anyone; No one has stopped me; there are always plenty of excuses and reasons.
I’m feeling discontented and dissatisfied. In the back of my mind there’s the niggling thought “Is this all my life is to be?” The day-to-day of life- friends, conversations, visits, gardening, reading … all those things that make up our lives.
I don’t write to make money, to be famous or to be published. I write because it satisfies something within me. I feel complete, content, grounded; when I don’t write I’m discontented and miserable, my life has less meaning, I’m purposeless. Sitting at my computer – writing, pondering, researching, reading – I feel focussed, centred, content. Clicking that button to “publish” gives me such satisfaction and finding a comment on a post or a “like” has me leaping for joy.
I have been trying to fit my writing time in around all the other things that happen. It worked sort of, when I lived here by myself because not so many other things happened. I did have lots of time to myself. But with another person in the house there’s always a conversation, something interesting one of us has just seen or read or heard, or work to be done, or shopping to be sorted or dinner or … then there’s the friendships that have developed and I want to nurture and enjoy … then there’s “being” time and …so many things.
If I want to write, if I want to blog regularly, if I want to keep learning and pushing the boundaries, then I must do more than commit. I must act and practise. And that means, setting aside the time. I don’t work full-time so I have flexibility. I can take my diary each week and block out my working times. And I can act so that nothing takes those times away. There’s plenty of time for other things. For more than twelve months I have acted on the assumption that I could fit writing in. After I’d been out for lunch, after we planned the garden, after I went to the gym, after the housework … then I would write or I could have an early dinner and write in the evening.
Guess what? It hasn’t happened. It hasn’t worked. Not for a very long time.
I’ve been thinking about giving up – you know those moments of “common sense” when you preach the “face the facts and be realistic” lectures. Or could I hold the dream without doing anything much? Live with the vagueness of I’d do it tomorrow, or when I felt like it or when I had some space or ..? That’s how I lived for many years. One day when I have more time, one day when I’m better, one day… I have a house full of one days. One day I’ll use that wool, one day I’ll get back to the piano, one day I’ll go kayaking, one day I’ll garden, one day I’ll…
(Some of those one days won’t happen- more truths to face, to grieve and to accept, but that’s another story.)
I have read all the writers who say essentially the same thing: Writing has to be your job. You have to sit at your writing space for those prescribed hours. It is a discipline and it’s hard work. It requires commitment.
You can have what you want, but you can’t have everything.
This morning, the final piece slid into place. Something shifted in me.
If I’m serious about it then writing must come first and that means making choices. There will be times when I have to say no. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? The challenge is to take myself seriously as a writer. And that’s the hard bit. I might have to acknowledge some of my dreams and if I do, then I might have to do something about them. And that scares me, throws me right up against myself, my fears and my lack of self- belief. I remember my tutor saying at my first ever writing workshop: “You must begin calling yourself a writer. If you write regularly, even if no one else ever sees it, even if you have no plans for publishing, then you are a writer.” Oh how difficult it was, when people asked me what I was doing, to say “I’m writing.” At the moment, if someone asks me what I’m doing, my answer is vague, because I feel ashamed. If people ask for my blog details I don’t want to give them, I’m ashamed of how little I’ve done and how neglected it is.
How did this get finally get home to me?
My friend was travelling home and it was an opportunity to spend time with him. I’d love it. But I’d just returned from a few days in Melbourne, last month a few days’ holiday and yesterday I spent most of the day at the beach. Yes, they’re wonderful things to do, yes it’s good to relax and have fun and yes they’re all necessary …
I saw what I was doing and how I was continuing to sabotage myself. At some point I must say “No”, make a choice. Remember – you can have what you want but you can’t have everything.
I met my friend and we had a lovely time, but I haven’t forgotten. Let’s see how I go.