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?