What Do You Give Up to Write?
Funny story: I've had this blog post in mind for the last few days. And then when it was time for me to sit down and write it, my blog host, Typepad, had two DOS (denial of service–I looked it up) attacks, on Thursday night and Friday morning. So I had to give up the chance to write it for a while. And because Typepad was out all morning and now I don't have as much time as planned, this will be a short post. (Of course, I often say that and then run on. And on. And on.)
Years ago, I heard an author (whose name has been lost to the mists of time) say, that in order to write a novel, "You have to be willing to give up sunny days."
That might not mean as much to those of you who live in climates that are sunny year-round, but here in Portland where it rains a lot, it's practically a law that on a sunny day you have to be outside.
And so this author had given up her sunny days in order to stay inside and write. And her comment has stuck with me all these years.
I wonder what all of us have given up to write. Maybe:
Maybe for some of us, its the higher income we'd have if we had a full-time job. And then there's the fact that writers can shell out a lot of money for classes and conferences, not to mention computers and paper and notebooks and pens.
For most of us, this is the biggie. Because, as we well know, books and articles and stories do not write themselves. So we have to make time for them to get written. Time that might otherwise be spent watching the shows everyone is talking about, like Game of Thrones. Time you might share with family members or friends. Time cleaning house or organizing closets or doing laundry.
Have you ever declined a social invitation in favor of writing? And then if you explain to your friends why you've declined they say, "You need to get out and have some fun." And you say, "But writing is fun." And they think you're nuts? Yeah, me too. But we've all probably given up a chance to have other kinds of fun.
Kidding. Sort of.
Why Writing is Worth It
I just realized that this post is starting to sound a bit negative–like, poor us, we have to give up so much in order to ply our beloved trade. But I don't mean it that way at all, I really don't. Believe it or not, I conceived this post as a sort of celebration of what we've let go in order to succeed as writers. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But there's a lot of power in choosing how we want to spend our time. So many people don't–they fill their days with mindless activities that they aren't fully invested in.
But we choose to spend our time honing words and telling stories. I've shared this quote before, but I love it so much, so here goes again. It's from Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey (one of my favorite writing books ever):
"But take hope, for writing is magic. Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural, on the borderline with telepathy. Just think: We can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts. The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended."
And that, my friends, is why writing is worth it.
What have you given up to write?
Photo by lemort.