Dear Writing Self,
Here are some things I’d like to say to you:
1. Get off your ass!
2. Quit making excuses!
Oh yeah, and:
3. I love you.
I guess I didn’t exactly do a great compliment sandwich, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just gotta tell it like it is. And it is like this: To be a writer means to write. Period. And a person either does it or she doesn’t. There really is no gray.
Here’s the thing, I often don’t when I should. And sometimes I don’t when I really want to. I just can’t think. Or I’m tired. Or I’m lazy.
But I do find solace at least in what Stephen King says in On Writing about the only job he ever had when he couldn’t still write was when he was teaching. That makes me feel like it’s not just me and I’m not just being lazy. Yet, the notion also depresses me. It means that I have to choose. Teaching is such a giving job, and if I’m going to give to you, I have to choose between you. True, I can still write. I can sit down and put words on a page. But how can I get lost in a world I’m creating? How can I know what my characters do when I’m not writing them? How can I lose track of time and forget where I am because you have taken over my brain and heart and physical body so that words gush from me onto the page?
I can’t really invest fully in you when I’m giving so much of me away all the time.
But I am lucky. I do get to teach other writers and that is energizing. For that hour each day, I may not get to invest in you particularly, but I get to at least invest in your colleagues who live in my students. That’s something. And I’ll try to take that something and turn it into something else that resembles you because I need you so much. And I am blessed and cursed with two life’s passions. I don’t think I can choose.
So here is what I’m going to promise you: I won’t write every day, but I will write consistently. I will sit down with you even when I’m tired or overwhelmed or frustrated. And when I can’t sit with you, I’ll sit with your friends who live in me too–the artist, the thinker, the tinker, the dreamer, the observer. I’ll ask them to be there when I just can’t bring you along. I’ll ask them to be there so that I can walk around with bluebirds and drumbeats and chorus lines and crazy Aunt Fayes making a home in my head. I’ll make it real cozy for them–a warm house with layered shag carpets and lamplight and baking smells coming from the kitchen–so when you decide to come and visit, I can sit down with you there and have something to say to you.
Be patient with me. Don’t leave me. Come visit the home I’ve made for you and stay when you can. Because without you, I am an empty house with one sad light shining from the window.