When life gets busy, we learn where our true priorities lay. Not the priorities we tell people. We say those things to look good in other people’s eyes. I mean our real priorities, the ones deeply seeded in our being that only come out when no one is looking.
Recently, my life got really busy. My mother-in-law battled chemo and is now going through radiation therapy. After I graduated college (2014) I founded a charity to help mitigate veteran suicide (whenever people ask me, “What do you do with a degree in philosophy of ethics?”, I tell them, “You found a charity to help others 😉 “). I offer counseling to help prevent people from taking that dark plunge. My spouse recently went back to working for herself again, doing interior design. Between dealing with health issues, deaths in the family, running a charity, helping run an interior design business, rearing children, and having to make my own coffee, finding time to widdle about 20k words from a 150k manuscript can pose a serious issue.
When life gets busy like that, when it demands your time and attention, it’s time to trim some of the ancillary activities until life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Everyone is different, and whatever activities you cut might be far different than mine. One scroll through my blog is proof enough that blogging is an ancillary activity that will get cut in times of need. Social media as well. As life demands more and more of my time, pretty much everything that isn’t genre writing gets cut because that is my passion. Writing fantasy novels is my dream. It’s all I really want to do in life. Well…write novels and drink coffee, but I think coffee is just another tool for writing, like pencil and paper. Through the thick and thin of the maelstrom that is my life, I always find time to write.
It’s during these times of chaos that we discover what is truly important to us by how we spend our precious smidgen of free time. Writing is most important to me (behind the obvious priority—family). I spend most of my free time clacking at my keyboard, or thumb wrestling my phone. But I also have my guilty pleasures that I sneak in every now and then. Namely, Lord of the Rings Online. I don’t play often, and I don’t spend inordinate amounts of time on it; however, I do afford myself a couple sinfully delicious hours a week to indulge my desires. Could I be doing something else? Of course! I could be writing instead of slaying another mob of goblins for the hundredth time, or traveling across the map to click on digitally rendered treasures. Then why do I do it?
Sometimes we have to force ourselves to relax for a moment. For example, I am currently sitting in my dining room next to a window with a beautiful luscious plant on the sill, writing this blog, and I can’t help but feel a sense of urgency to work on my manuscript, like my subconscious is telling me, “You have so many things to do, why are you writing this blog instead of working on your manuscript?” The reason I am writing this blog right now instead of working on edits, or one of the reasons, is because I feel that good writers don’t focus solely on their manuscripts. Good writers write, they write a lot, and they write across many topics and areas. Good writers take time to help other writers to become great. They share their ideas, their struggles, their failures, and their accomplishments. I want to be a good writer one day, and so I’ll continue to do those things that good writers do in hopes that maybe some of it it will rub off on me 😛
Good writing takes discipline.
“If you only write when you’re inspired you may be a fairly decent poet, but you’ll never be a novelist…” —Neil Gaiman
There’s nothing admirable in doing something only when you want to do it. Unless you’re three, then it’s impossible to do anything unless you really want to. The true test of passion comes when you’re faced with a lack of drive. When I was in combat in Iraq, there were plenty of days that I didn’t want to go out on patrol and hunt for insurgents and IED’s. In fact. Every single day was a day that I didn’t want to go out of the wire on some RECON mission. I wanted to be back home, grilling with my family. But I knew I had to go on those patrols, and I was passionate about getting my soldiers back alive. So I did.
So I write.
Inspired or defeated. Happy or sad. I write every day.
One day I might consider myself to be a good writer. But until then, I’ll work as if I already am.