Monday, November 8, 2010

What's at Stake? My Sanity...?

Perhaps it was foolish of me to set such a high goal: 3000 words by the end of the day.

It was Saturday, and I had the entire day to catch up on the writing time I missed the day before. I felt good.

Then an unexpected visitor…

A girl I had gone to high school with came home with my mother. I hadn’t seen her in a long time. She needed a place to stay. She has a one year old baby. The father of the baby had dumped her seven months ago and married another woman who already had four kids. This girl was still staying with them because she had nowhere else to go.

Until yesterday. He kicked her out. Didn’t even give her time to get her stuff. He’d have someone else bring it to her later.

She was still wearing an old faded pear of pink striped pajamas and a dirty-looking yellow sweatshirt. I rummaged awkwardly through my drawers and gave her some of my clothes to wear, and then she took a shower.

I’m selfish. I’ll gladly admit it. But it bothers me. It bothers me that my inclination, my need to write turns me into a hermit. Makes me not fully empathize with someone in need because I am missing out on “essential” writing time. Or maybe it was because my plans were not turning out the way I wanted.

I kept saying, “God, a person is more important than this book I’m trying to write by the end of November. A person is more important than completing a 3000 word count by the end of today.” I still didn’t feel any better.

I didn’t want to be rude and lock myself away in my room until I had written a sufficient amount. Besides, I was stuck in the story. I didn’t know where to go next.

I did try to write though. But the girl just sat on my bed and stared at me. I wrote a paragraph until I couldn’t do it anymore. With her watching me, every word I typed sounded stupid.

I felt torn up the whole day because I couldn’t write.

Instead, I talked to her. I made popcorn and hot chocolate and we watched a movie.

And the whole time, I wondered if writing was worth it, if it made me feel selfish and if it made me feel antisocial.

Yesterday, I was back at it. And today, here I am.

But the question I’m still asking myself is: Is it possible to balance the writing life with social life, family life, and working life without having a mental breakdown and making everyone around me question my sanity?


  1. I feel the same way about music. Like, if I beat myself up so much about NOT doing it enough, or not good enough, is it worth it? I know the answer is yes but I can definitely relate with you.

    Just hanging out with that girl was probably the best thing you could have done on Saturday. What a gift you gave her. Maybe there is a story in all of this....

    :) Have a great day!

  2. I know the feeling. Should be writing, but stuck. You just have to forgive the day, and know that somewhere, sometime it'll all balance out. You'll have more time to write when you least expect it.

    One of the many reasons I don't do NaNo. (Good luck to you, though.)

  3. I can empathize. We have to learn to manage it because it never stops (life, that is).

  4. It IS very hard to have balance. I feel like I'm constantly neglecting my kids and friends. However, if you are a writer deep within your soul you have to embrace that you need to write for your own happiness and mental health. Just take it in moderation. It took me a long time to realize that.

    Also, the cool thing about living a life on days you're not writing is it gives you something to write about and frees up your writing blocks. You never know where you'll get material--a young mother living with a boyfriend who married another woman with four kids is certainly fodder for a story! (If nothing else, the emotion there should make it into a book.)

    Good luck, Emily! :o)

  5. Thanks you guys! I'm learning that you kind of have to go with the flow, especially if you really want to be a writer. Life is definitely going to get in the way, but I shouldn't let it get me all worked up! There will always be other times to write.

  6. A hurting person over prose. You chose wisely.

    What would you have thought of a character in a novel you read that typed while the world was slowly unraveling for the shattered girl by her side?

    We write to touch hearts with our stories. Yet, if a heart calls out to us for help, we can live a story that has one person supporting another. Sometimes the best stories are the ones we live ourselves each day.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting, Roland

  7. I spent the first six hours of November in the ER with my wife. Something like that'll put writing into perspective really fast. But you know, I'll take something from it, the fear, the frustration, the relief. I'll use that experience, and my writing will be better off for having had it.

    What can you take from your encounter that will help you grow as a writer?

  8. Roland, I wouldn't have thought very much of such a character. Very good point...the stories of our lives may definitely be the best and most worthy ones.

    Good question Dan. I feel that my writing has definitely been put in perspective.From the encounter, I learned that there will always be other days to write, and that on the days that I don't write, I can learn about myself and other people in a way that will give me something to write about later on.