I took Thursday off from blogging, planning to make a post on Friday morning. But then, on Friday, I left the house at 6:30 am and didn’t come back until 9:30 pm. I slept fitfully that night, and woke up Saturday with a fever and upset stomach. I spent the first half of the day in bed, then moved to the couch to sleep for the afternoon, and at some point in the evening, watched a bit of Grey’s Anatomy Season Two that I got from the library last week, even though it seemed a bit too bright and loud. Because I couldn’t keep anything down all day, I was also going through an unplanned caffeine detox.
I feel better today, weak and hollowed out, but better. Along with eating, I couldn’t write or read yesterday. It was hard to take a whole weekend day “off” when I hadn’t gotten any of my own work done on Thursday or Friday either. Not only had I missed blogging, but I am again a full week behind in my Ordinary Courage class, with only one week left, laundry needs done, and the pile of receipts and bills on my desk remind me that I still haven’t balanced the checkbook this month.
There isn’t enough time. Whenever my nieces complain that they are bored or I hear other people talk about how they don’t want to retire because “what would I do all day?,” I grit my teeth and want to scream. There is so much I want to do, and I want to do it all, NOW. Which, in part, is why I ended up sick. It starts with my inability to pace myself. I push because there is so much I want, and I don’t listen to myself or pay attention to what I need, don’t care for myself when I am doing too much.
And right now, the situation is more intense. I am trying to maintain a full work life–you know, they call it “full time” for a reason. If you have such a job, it takes up all of your time. You are either working it directly or preparing for it or cleaning up after it or resting up from/for it. Yes, you might have evenings and weekends away, but I find that those are spent in recovery or preparation. Making sure we have clean clothes and groceries, the dogs are cared for, we aren’t defaulting on our bills, and we see our family and friends enough that they’ll remember what we look like is all I can manage on my “time off.” Add to that my my life-rehab, and my desire for a full creative life. How is this ever going to work?
When my book group met with author Laura Resau on Friday night, it was one of the questions I asked her. She’d been an academic, a graduate student and teacher, who eventually quit to write full time. A few other people in my group are writers, one of them who has published multiple books but maintains a “day job.” I asked Laura what the tipping point was for her, when she gave up the other paid work to write for a living/life. It’s not so important how she answered the specific question, when that was for her or why, but rather that in answering, she reinforced that you take the steps, no matter how small, you start and keep going, keep showing up, and maintain that faith and trust, that deep knowing, that this is what you want, what you should do, that it is right and true.
I noticed a shift in myself as a writer with my question to her. As a more immature practitioner, if I had the opportunity to ask, the questions were always about “How do I get published?” Now I want to know, “How do you give yourself permission to write, to be a writer full time?” Maybe for other writers, the question really is how to publish. For me, it’s about a whole life. It’s not just that I need to write and submit, but that I need to learn how to live, and the writing is part of the process. I can share during, and then when I figure out some stuff, I can polish and publish it, share it with others who need the encouragement and resources.
Laura signed my copy of her book, The Queen of Water, “Fill your writing journey with joy!” Today, feeling weak, hollowed out, and tired, with so much to catch up on and do, I am hopeful, committed to showing up, but also learning to pace myself, learning to live full time, with joy, and sharing the process.