I decided not to write at all last week. I spent the week travelling for work, celebrating my birthday, entertaining out of town guests, and hanging out with my parents. Some free moments were spent at the gym, catching up on episodes of Top Chef and Brothers and Sisters, and riding the Gears and Grubs ride on a beautiful fall day.
In the back of my head, there was a constant, nagging, anxious feeling. Because time spent doing all of that meant time spent not writing
(I apologize in advance for the whining that is about to ensue…)
When I completed my MFA, I tucked a lot of work into a drawer. I needed to find a job and I did not know how to find a job writing. I worked in television production and soon found myself working full time at a design and animation house where I worked with a lot of creative people and spent 0% of the time doing anything creative myself. I just ‘made sure’ of things. Made sure we had shooting locations, a cast, a crew. Made sure we were stocked with tissues, ink cartridges, and pens.
As soon as I started to feel unhappy there, I went back to writing at night and on the weekends (I am not a morning person :-). I wrote short stories and tried to get them published. In that time, I got one writing gig. I wrote a piece for a travel website and got paid $75. It was the first time I had ever been paid to write anything. I was given another ‘assignment’ and I had no motivation to do it. I made a conscious decision not to write that article and, to this day, I’m not sure why.
Exactly one year ago, I decided to write a novel. Turns out, when you have a limited amount of time to write, those hours count more than anything. These are also the hours I need to eat, sleep, exercise, and enjoy myself. But it means that every hour I spend doing those things, is an hour spent not writing. And I think about that every time I partake in another activity. It’s a dull ache and it squirms around asking: why aren’t you writing?