I Will Keep Writing

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My husband and I had another serious talk yesterday morning, revolving around how much time I spend by myself writing and meditating.  I remained calm, I listened.  I wanted him to get that I’m doing this because I want to evolve as a person, to be more present, to be clearer.  I wouldn’t be able to express this wish about evolving if all I could do in that moment was fly off the handle, become defensive, and react.

I’m doing this writing project because I know I have a creative side that wants to be expressed.  I know that the more I work at this expression, the easier it will become.  Or if not easier, perhaps more natural.  Or if not natural, at least more familiar.

In the last 49 days I’ve become quite familiar with the voice that says, “Don’t bother.” And I’ve become familiar with the focus that it takes to find the words hiding behind the voice.  I’ve called upon strength I’d forgotten I had–the strength to have a thought, and then try, try, try again until I find the right words to express it.

I also have become more familiar with the editor.  This is the one that won’t let me go on, that won’t allow the thoughts to gush forth, because it must go back countless times and reread every sentence I’ve written, to make sure that there is some cohesive flow to the whole thing.  Progress is painstaking, and there is always a better way to say what I have said. Trying to find the best way to say something takes time.  And hence, three hours later, I might present the blogosphere with around eight hundred words that are reasonably understandable, sentences that are acceptably articulate, instead of three thousand words that are the raw contents of my mind.

Because, the editor says, No one wants to know the raw contents of your mind. It’s not pretty.  They want art, and art takes devotion, attention to detail, meticulous planning, skill, discrimination.  They don’t want some petty stream of conscious bullcrap–that’s so unrefined, so beneath them, it insults their intelligence and reveals your ignorance!  No, you must take time with what you’re thinking, and craft beautiful gems of sentences that glow and evoke awe and awaken everyone to the beauty of this life.  You must evolve past the primordial every day slop and say something amazing for God’s sake!

My mother in law is in town for a few days.  We had this amazing conversation after we got the kids to bed, in which I divulged every gory detail of what is hanging my husband and me up in our marriage.  He was sitting right there beside me at the dining room table, and I talked to his mother about how our sex life is suffering because we can’t iron out the birth control thing, and besides we’re tired from raising two small kids.  And I talked about how my husband is going crazy with this blog project, how he sees two to three hours spent writing every night as excessive, and if I were to continue with this pace, how he doesn’t think our marriage could survive.

Yep, I candidly talked about the lumpiest, hardest to swallow bits of our relationship, right there.  And then we talked about how I think I should finally go on antidepressants, how I’ve been resisting medication for a long time.  The whole time, during this conversation, my experience was one of being refreshed.  Isn’t that strange?  To feel refreshed when you’re talking about the things that bring you the most pain?  But that is exactly what was happening.  I think I found it wonderful to be able to just talk and connect, no pretense, not trying to impress anyone or attempt to cover over what is ugly and sad and confused in me.

I just laid it out on the table, and damn, it was refreshing.  We could’ve been talking about our favorite movies or books, so light was the tone of the conversation.  We laughed and smiled, and all of a sudden these heavy problems in our marriage, the heaviness of my depression–well, it wasn’t so heavy any more.

My mother in law’s solution was that I cut back on the time spent writing.  While I agreed somewhat, I answered that I hope to be a professional writer some day.  This is something I shared with my husband only yesterday, in an attempt to gain leverage in our argument about what my priorities are.  I surprised myself, suddenly blurting out my secret plan to one day be a professional writer. I knew I could use blogging as a tool for developing my ability to write well, just the daily practice alone could help me progress in articulating my thoughts efficiently.  But I wasn’t planning on sharing all of this with my husband, not then, not in the middle of a serious discussion about the future of our marriage.  And, right there, in the middle of the argument, it just happened.  All of a sudden there I was, blurting it out…I hope to write professionally some day, and the only way I can become a writer is by writing.

I blurted it out yesterday, and then it happened again this evening.  My mother in law sounded a lot like my husband.  She didn’t say the word “priority,” but this is what she was getting at.  And just as before, when I found myself in the serious conversation with my husband, I also wanted her to get why I’m writing.  I waited, I listened…

I heard my mother in law too.  She said, Nothing is more important than your relationship.  You are fortunate to have a husband that loves you and wants to be with you.  You are such a cute couple.  You don’t want to lose your closeness.  Don’t let it happen.  Don’t let yourselves grow farther apart.

Okay, I get it.  A couple needs to spend time together.  Yes. I agree.  And also, a writer just has to write.

A couple of days ago, I explored how science and spirituality don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  It’s  the same thing right here.  I can be a writer, and I can be happily married.  I can be a good mom, and yoga teacher, and wife, AND I can be a successful writer. I don’t have to give anything up, especially not the thing that has provided an incredibe opportunity to awaken and grow in awareness of my self and my life.

I’m in this intense period of time, trying to iron out my crazy schedule, and make time for the things that matter. I have my eyes focused forward, believing that this moment will reveal to me what the next step is.  I often become tired, depressed, and a bit discouraged, but I also see the spiral dance that is this path of awakening. I have faith. I know that there are good things ahead.

And by God, I will keep writing.

2 responses »

  1. I’ve been thinking about your post and recent challenges and wondering if there might be adjustments you could make which would still honor your writing, yoga, and meditation disciplines and also allow you to be more fully present not only for yourself put for those you love–your husband and young children.

    Time management folks sometimes talk about the importance of working smarter rather than harder. Maybe there is a yogic equivalent to that concept? Certainly, more isn’t always better.

    One of my challenges in writing is being selective and consise. Not every good idea has to be included in every post, but my impulse is often to throw it in, which may end up diluting the focus of my central message. I need to come up with a better way of privately keeping track of ideas, jotting down notes that I don’t necessarily have to expand on right away but want to record for future reference. Maybe using Evernote?

    I’ve always admired the kinds of short and to-the-point blog posts that Seth Godin writes, for example, or Patti Digh’s Daily Rock.

    Have you considered varying your writing practice around a weekly schedule so that certain days are more “put it all out there” kinds of posts like you have been writing while others are brief more focused reflections? It might actually be a valuable writing exercise and discipline, especially for someone who wants to write professionally, and potentially those brief posts could be written in far less time, so that those evenings you could spend more time with your husband, yet still be writing on a daily basis.

    Or perhaps you could invite fellow bloggers to guest post once a week and take that day off from writing… Or if setting up weekly guest posts isn’t feasible, you could have one post per week that is just a quote of the week, which you could decide on in advance? And/or one post a week that is basically just a photograph of something you found meaningful during the week.

    There are lots of ways to blog daily without having to spend 3 hours of every single day on your posts. And if your husband has at least one night a week when he can count on having some extended quality time together with you, it may be easier for him to support your writing aspirations.

    Only you can decide what you have to do, of course, but I encourage you to look for creative and flexible possibilities that honor your path without shutting out your husband or young children. Surely, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    • Lenora,

      Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to think about solutions to my dilemma. I have thought about posting photos, incorporating more quotes and perhaps a brief response to those, etc.; your suggestions really affirmed that there is a different way besides spending so much time every night cloistering myself in my “lair”– as my husband calls it. And the bit about being selective and concise–this is certainly my goal as a writer, and I imagine that this skill will develop over time the more I practice. The drive to be concise is exactly where I get hung up late at night, when my brain is tired and I’m searching for the one word that would express and effectively eliminate four words of a particularly long sentence. Maybe I could modify my writing goals, especially when it’s late and I’m finding myself foggy brained because of my exhausting routine. Striking a balance…will take some thought, and lots of tweaking. But I do have the intention to be more present for everyone, while not sacrificing the presence I want to explore in myself. Thanks again Lenora, it means a lot to me that you wanted to offer some helpful advice.

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