I have been wondering lately why it has taken me so long to indulge this writing habit. I’m 37 years old, which isn’t old of course, but it is much later in life than many people would have given in to a nagging desire that had persisted for over twenty years – especially when giving in to that nagging desire wouldn’t really require them to make any major life changes, cost them any money, or destroy any relationships. Instead, I have finally decided to give in to my desire after making a major life change, which cost me a lot of money and has the potential to destroy a relationship. Let me explain.
Within the past year, I have uprooted my family, causing us to taking a pretty darn large pay cut, to move across the country to a small town in the Rocky Mountains where I have dreamt of living for a long time, but my partner of ten years hates cold and snow. (To be fair, he has been a tremendous sport about it and was also ready for a life change himself, but after our third consecutive snowstorm carrying over two feet of accumulated white stuff fell upon us in the first two weeks of January, I started stacking empty bean cans outside our front door so I would know if he was trying to leave the kids and me under the cover of darkness.) At this point, you probably think I’m crazy and I won’t argue against that point, but allow me a moment to explain a little further. Prior to this move, my partner and I had jobs that were intense, demanding, often very rewarding, and could be equally devastating (in the truest sense of the word) on any given day. We routinely experienced very long days filled with a lot of pressure and we would return home to our very young children with often just enough time to eat dinner and send them off to bed. It was time for a change and so we made it.
So the obvious answer to the query originally posed is that I started writing now because this change of lifestyle has given me more time to write. Ironically, that does not seem to be the case. While I definitely have more time to be with my family, that time is spent WITH MY FAMILY. We have a five-year old tornado of a son and a two-year old daughter. I do not need to explain any further to the parents of young children reading this post, and for those of you without children please just try to imagine writing ANYTHING (like, you know, a text message) with a two-year old on the premises. I’m not even allowed to go to the bathroom by myself, let alone find twenty consecutive minutes for deep contemplation and sentence construction.
So there I was, living in my dream location with my wonderful if unbelievably distracting family, shoveling snow to my heart’s content, with this constant and unrelenting nagging feeling that I needed to be writing. Oh yeah, and remember, IT’S STILL A SECRET (please see Post #1), as in, not even my partner knows that I want to write. I try to steal an hour whenever I can to work on my novel, which, you guys, is a story that has literally been following me for over twenty years. The problem is that I can steal approximately one hour a week to write. No joke. At this rate I’ll be lucky to get this poor, very patient story down on paper sometime in the next fifty years or so.
What’s a girl to do? Answer: Wake Up. In every sense of the phrase, just Wake Up. I am writing this at 4am, while my beautiful, vibrant, and very disruptive family sleeps. While the whole world is quiet. While my mind is focused and my heart is open, before the demands of the day even attempt to make themselves known. Honestly, the very super-early morning has always been my favorite part of the day and there’s probably a good reason for that. I’ve probably been supposed to be doing this for a while now. (Until this recent move, however, my job required me to show up by 5:30am so my favorite early morning time was spent making coffee and oatmeal and commuting…)
But it was time for me to wake up in another sense too. Toni Morrison – hands down my favorite wordsmith – feeling depressed and paralyzed following the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, famously said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” And, as always, she was right. Regardless of your opinion of the results of our most recent election, there is no denying that we are experiencing a pivotal moment in time. And each one of us carrying that nagging desire, that constant pulling towards something, or that secret part of ourselves that we have yet to show the world, each one of us needs to wake up and get to work.