Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing, life and what's between them

Writing used to be a guilty pleasure for me, or at the very least, not anything to be taken seriously. It had nothing to do with the main work of my life, after all; it was something to be done surreptitiously, in stolen moments, in dark corners. Yet it was something I still did - because I couldn't help myself. It has been a part of my life ever since I learned how to form letters on a page and string them into words and sentences. I remember being very surprised when I found out, while still a child, that it wasn't the same for other people; that not everybody wrote for pleasure or, at the very least, wanted to write.

Then, after many years, came a time when I began to think more highly about my writing skills. I began considering writing, though not a full-time occupation (since being a mother and homemaker was and is my main focus), something that could some day become something like work. Then the coin flipped, and instead of feeling guilty about "wasting my time" on writing, I began to feel irritated about every interruption that got in my way. Food always had to be cooked. My house was never clean enough. Children woke up in the night occassionally. What I longed for most of all was to write and write, for hours on end, to flesh out my legends, stories, poems and drawings.

 One day, my husband took the children for a day of fun at their grandparents'. I had the computer, and my time, all to myself for a long glorious stretch. I sat down, put some inspirational music on, and began to pound away at the keyboard. I wrote for about an hour and was very pleased with myself, but then I began to slow down. I shifted in my seat. I looked about me. I got up and walked the dog - then got back to the computer. I wrote some more, until I grew restless again. I got up and folded the laundry. Wrote some more, washed the dishes. Wrote some more, put the bread in the oven. Wrote some more, got the soup going.

 That day, I realized that it's impossible for me to be creative all day long. Or perhaps it is possible for one day, but certainly not every day. While living in my own head is fun and I love it, I also need to be connected with reality. I can't - nor do I want to - allow myself to stray indefinitely in the labyrinth of my imagination.

 By now I have reached a certain point of harmony. I realized that writing enriches my life, while life enriches my writing. If I gave up on writing, I would become a disappointed and bitter person, deprived of my favorite outlet. If I dedicated myself exclusively to writing, soon I would run out of things to write about.

The balance is still out there somewhere. Some days pass in a whirlwind of seemingly mundane activities, with no time to dedicate to actual writing, but sometimes a brilliant plot twist will hit me while I'm hanging out the washing. Some days are slower and more satisfying. Sometimes I'm pleased with myself, sometimes I'm not. Like everyone else, I guess. But at least, finally, I'm coming out of the drawer.


Linda said...

I love reading about your everyday life. I am glad to continue to give us a glimpse in.

maria smith said...

Everyone needs to find their outlet, something that charges their mind and spirit. I love redecorating and green cleaning.

Anonymous said...

I spend about an hour or two writing every morning while the kids play at the local play group. We don't go every day, but especially in the cold and snowy winters, they enjoy getting out of the house, and I really enjoy getting some quiet time to focus my mental energy. The rest of the day, I can't focus on writing at all, but I find my subconscious mind is still working hard. I am more able to be "in the moment" with my brain occupied on that sort of level, and when I sit down to write, the words just flow out. But after that hour or so, I get... stuck. There's nothing left. So I fold up the laptop and go home until the next day - when the words again flow. It's a strange process, but I've learned to accept the fact that I can't force the process. (And when I can't go for a while, let's say there's a long weekend or we're struggling with the flu or bad weather) I get very antsy after a while - as if my brain is telling me to sit down and let all the thoughts out, already! And then I find it harder to concentrate on any household or parenting duties. It's so strange!

Anonymous said...

Also, I still remember that old series you were writing a few years back - about the stay at home niece, or whatnot? I really enjoyed it and wished you had put more posts up. I hope we get to read some more of your writing at some point!

Becca said...

Anna, some would say housekeeping IS creative. Here is an excerpt from a favorite book series of mine, The Fairacre Series:

"Mrs. Willet is small and pale and yet she is ‘always on the go, as she herself will tell you. The fact that she can do so many things, and takes enormous pride in doing them well, is, I think, the secret of this apparently inexhaustible energy. There are so many different activities to engage her, that when she tires of one, there is another to which she can turn and get refreshment. From turning her heavy old mangle in the wash-house, she will come in and sit down and stitch a new skirt. She will prepare a stew, and while it simmers on the hob, filling the little house with its fragrance, she will practice her part in Mr. Annett’s new anthem, ready for the next church festival. And – this perhaps is the most important thing – she sees a satisfying result from her labours. The clothes blow on the line, the skirt is folded and put away in the drawer ready for next Sunday; Mr. Willet will come in ‘sharp-set’ and praise her bubbling stew; and, with any luck, Mr. Annett will congratulate her on her grasp of that difficult passage just before the basses come in.
It is a creative life. There is something worthwhile to show for energy expended which engenders the desire to accomplish more. Small wonder that the Mrs. Willets of this world are happy and deserve to be so."