I should be in bed. At a minimum, I should be getting ready for bed. But my brain will not slow down enough this evening. Tonight I'm not writing about "current events" in my life or the lives of those I love. Nope. My brain is on another track this evening.
Tonight, the writing life is under consideration. There is a man I "met" on Facebook, a friend of one of my former professors, who is caring for his two elderly parents (think incontinence, dementia and wheelchairs) by himself. Oh, and editing a non-fiction journal. And writing a nonfiction book about eldercare. He is simply impressive. I'm tremendously impressed by writers who write around, or perhaps the better word is through, distractions, who are able to write despite the tentacled fingers of life's demands tugging at them. Of course we all have distractions, but there are some - such as sick, demanding, needy and helpless parents - that anyone must admit are more urgent than the demand to sit at a keyboard and write.
Balancing real and perceived urgency - that is perhaps what I'm fascinated by these days. The truth is that the satisfactions and rewards of writing are so distant when one is sitting at that keyboard. My pleasure in the acts of creation and revision and reimagining - it is real. But achieving that is dependent upon the ability to be immersed, even if only for brief periods, in the world of language and imagination. It is a briny sharp pleasure to consider sounds and careful selection of words, searching for the word with the precise shade of meaning that is needed. It is a kind of pleasure to consider the rhythms of language and construction of sentences, to weave with words, to paint with images and to make the imagined come alive and become real for the reader.
It is difficult for my writing time to compete against the simpler exchanges of time for money, time for joy, time for the healthy glow of sweat from a workout. We have to work through balancing those exchanges - writing competes because it is as important as those things. As an artist, one must also believe that the work matters as much as the other worldly demands. As a result, making time to write is, if you are a writer, an imperative. Good. Done and done. Next challenge, please.
Ah, but as with any good plot, what happens when we complicate this question further? What if our writer has not one but three imperatives to juggle? What if some of the imperatives are practical, such as money to pay the mortgage, and some feel like a commitment that cannot be breached? Some writers would find a way to protect their writing time at all costs. I admire them, but I am apparently not among them. My writing time feeds my soul and keeps me centered and makes me feel as though my life has not jumped the rails entirely, and yet when my life's plot becomes more complicated, I let that time slip through my fingers, eaten up by the other things that tug more insistently, that I perceive to have greater urgency.
As I've written before in these posts - my greatest difficulty is accepting that I can't do everything I want to do. Our minutes and hours are actually finite. Very annoying. And somehow it is related, though I don't have words for it yet, this persistent thought that the element of urgency must be the strangest element of living with and caring for someone who is sick, or caring for an infant or a dependent parent. Everything that they need is more urgent than your own needs. It's hard to remember your own needs, let alone continue to prioritize something as ephemeral as writing prose.
No answers this evening, only questions that I'm tossing out into the night air. I miss my writing self, and for the first time in a long time, I am actually afraid I won't be able to find her again. I'm pretty sure she's around somewhere. She's often found putting together crazy playlists in iTunes, or sitting in the garden smelling green and blossoms and searching her brain for a better way to describe the surprising lemon-sweet lush scent of a rose. If you see her, kick her ass and send her home. I have work to do.
Best to all who happen this way.