Monday, December 31, 2007

Life gets in the way.

Writing isn't living. It's not the center or the focus of a writer's, nor an aspiring writer's, life. Or at least, I feel it shouldn't be. Writing is an extension and the expression of a life lived. If the life is well lived, the writer will have something about which to write, hopefully a lot about which to write. But as surely as a writer's life provides the raw material, the clay from which he forms his or her art, life can also interfere with the writing process.

Take my life, for example. I'm not a published writer, nor am I independantly wealthy. I have a wife, and two daughters who are not yet completely on their own, so I work a full-time job. I have a long commute to my job, as well. Plus, I'm a homeowner. Because our family budget is limited, I do most of my own household repairs and yard work. I go to church and I sing in the choir. I do research, related to my writing. I like to read a lot, as every writer must do if he is to gain a sense of what makes writing great. And I watch a lot of movies, trying to develop a sense of what makes for a good plot, because I want to write screenplays one day, and because I love movies and must have some time to relax. So, excluding hours spent watching movies, I'm busy.

I have all the usual problems anyone would have, unexpected car repairs and expenses, job-related difficulties, family problems, that can throw off my day - or my week - preoccupy my mind, and make it difficult for me to concentrate on my fiction.

I have trouble finding a quiet place to write. I think a lot of writers have this problem. So I spend a lot of time - and money - at coffee shops. I used my Christmas vacation to restructure my workspace at home in an effort to make it a more efficient place to write and a more comfortable place to work - which, of course, took time away from my writing.

I'm also fighting cancer. This problem might seem insurmountable to some, but in my life, it's just one more hurdle in my quest to get a little writing done every day. These days, if caught early, cancer isn't so much a death sentence as it is a life sentence. Thus, trusting God to give me the time I need to finish at least my first story, I perservere in my writing.

Some days I make a little progress in my novel writing. Other days pass having seen no progress at all; far too many days pass like this.

But I am determined. I will continue to work on my novel until it is finished, if God indeed grants me the time I need to do so. I only wish I could stay home and work on it each day, rather than having to rush off to work in the morning five days a week. By the time I get home from work, relax for a while, have dinner, spend a little time with my wife, I find that it's late, often too late to begin work on my novel. Late in the evening is not when I have my ambition; usually, I feel most like writing in the morning.

So I've dedicated one day a week for my writing - Saturday. I don't work at my job on Saturdays. Sundays are for church and for household chores. But Saturdays are free. On Saturdays I work for myself. On Saturdays I am a writer.

When I have weekdays off from work, I try to use them for my writing. And sometimes, I actually succeed, when household chores don't call too loudly, when family responsibilities don't overshadow my need to write. No wonder Isaac Asimov wrote about the wonders of a sunny day - when family members and friends would go outside to enjoy the weather, and leave him alone with his characters.

Speaking of weekdays off from work, today is such a day. So I must bid you adieu, and turn to my writing. My characters need me. How shall they live if I don't give them life?

1 comment:

  1. I do know how you feel. I spent 20 years trying to balance my life with my writing. It seemed my life was winning in the battle, always taking me away from what I loved the most, writing. I had three children close apart so they seemed to take a lot of my time, then the jobs, not to mention everything else in my life. Finally, it got to the point where I needed to do something about it. I am writing full time, cut the work hours and sleep hours so I have more time for the writing. I still don't write every single day but I am working at it. At least I'm writing more often lol.

    People who have been writing knows it is hard to work out enough time to sit down and write, some work hard to scrounge up five minutes here and ten minutes there but even that is hard. I manage to get a couple hours before going to bed and it seems to work for me. The best way to do it is to make the time and work hard to keep that time for your writing. It only gets easier with practice.

    Good luck with your writing. I hope you are lucky enough to find a little time to write even just a page or a paragraph. Have fun too!