But that back-to-school energy is in the air, and I can feel the creative urge returning. I’ve decided that one way I’m going to encourage myself to act on that urge is to take the BlogHer September challenge to post a blog every day. I can’t promise that every post will be of high quality — or very long — but they’ll be consistent. (I stand in awe of , who has posted every day this whole year. And she’s funny every time.)
In graduate school back in the ’90s I took in a particular idea of what being a Writer was — a Hemingway-esque pattern studded with substance abuse and characterized by daily stretches of intense work uninterrupted by any family obligations. (Is this a myth, or is it true that he had a slot in his door through which his [current] wife would slip his meals…and his booze?) When I take it seriously, this model for the writing life irritates me at least and pushes me to despair at most.
Here’s my secret, the hidden heresy of an MFA program graduate: I don’t want to write at the expense of all else, I don’t always feel like writing, and I don’t ascribe to the belief that I should make myself do it every day at all costs.
Does this exclude me from The Real Writers’ Club? Maybe. Do I care? Maybe not.
Recently on Facebook I encountered a woman I knew vaguely, years ago. She’s having what appears to be a very successful writing and teaching career, and as I snooped around her page I felt an acute pang of envy and deprivation (She’s taken my parking space! There’s no room for me!). I had to use some of the various tools I’ve learned to quiet the “I’m not as good as XYZ” voice. It helped to talk myself through a few things:
- I don’t know what goes on inside this woman’s head or heart; I only see the surface details of her life.
- I don’t want to be a writing teacher in an academic setting. So why the envy?
- I wouldn’t trade the particular people or circumstances of my life for anything, really — my children, my partner, the people with whom I walk my spiritual path — it’s all precious. And painfully hard-won.
Sure, it’s September, a time of year when I start to ramp up my activity level. But I want to enjoy that flush of renewed energy without adding a brittle layer of comparison over it. I am a writer. I write. But it’s not the only way I experience myself. I get to write for the pleasure of it, when I want to — not to prove anything. What a relief.