Warning – this post touches on major life themes and reveals some of the philosophy of my life so I may get boring while discussing it. Feel free to click away at any time; I’ll never know.
So, here it is in a nutshell. I was reading a blog the other day in which the writer had posted a list of “Some day” plans. For example, “Some day I will learn to play the bag pipes,” and “Some day I will travel to Nunavut,” and “Some day I will organize the kitchen drawer into which I throw miscellaneous stuff.” I made those up, but you get the drift. In the comments section other people then started revealing their “some days” and most of them were along those lines.
One, however, said “Some day I will spend more time with my kids.”
You know that ripping sound a vinyl album used to make if you stopped it mid-song (anyone? anyone?). Well, my brain did that. For those of you not aware of the above-mentioned sound I’m afraid there’s no digital equivalent so just think squealing brakes as a rather faint approximation.
Anyway, I found myself thinking – not for the first time – when are you going to start living your life?
Because, newsflash, life is happening. And not just your life. Your kids’ lives, your spouse’s life, your best-friend-from-high-school’s life. All these lives are happening and, even if you have a “some day” in mind, there’s no guarantee they have that same day in mind, nor is there much chance at all that fate is also working towards that day.
So, spend time with your kids now. Please. Start being nice to your husband today (by the way, “being nice” isn’t a euphemism; I really do mean treat him like a friend but if you also want to start “being nice” to him more regularly, I’m sure he’d appreciate it). Call up people you’ve missed – or use Facebook, whatever, you know I’m not on it.
My point is, some things you just have to do now. And I know, very often, people think they’re doing the right thing by not doing those things now. They think “if I work harder now, I’ll have more money and we can buy a cottage and the whole family will have more time together.” Yes, but when? When the kids have boyfriends and girlfriends and part-time jobs and – I’m sorry to say it, but I remember my own teen-age years – would rather work an eight-hour shift for minimum wage at Second Cup than go to the cottage with you for the weekend?
And lest you wonder what I’m going on about? and isn’t this a writing blog? and how does any of this apply to writing? I’m going to tell you now.
You won’t get any writing done if you don’t start writing. Sounds like stupid advice from a stupid person, I know, but it’s true. And not only will you get no writing done, your writing won’t get any better, you won’t make any progress and, if publishing is your aim, you won’t be any closer to that. So when are you going to start living your writing life?
Now, don’t get me wrong, the first thing I told you to do is spend time with loved ones. Please do not decide to start writing an hour a day instead of hanging out with your kids. Your kids are growing up and going somewhere; your writing isn’t (especially if you don’t use it – oh, that was mean).
However, what I am saying is re-evaluate. Organize. Prioritize. I went to this indescribably horrible presentation when I was a sales rep. where a guy stood at the front of the room and put big rocks in a jar and explained you have to make room for the big things first and then the little things will fit around them. Seriously, the presentation was awful but the concept is right.
The trick is figuring out what the big things are. For me they’d be (1) family (2) writing (3) exercise. Then I have to decide what fits into these categories. Volunteering in my son’s class goes into “family” so it’s priority 1. Riding gives me exercise and also stimulates my writing so it’s in 2 & 3. The evening wine and cheese I was recently invited to because I volunteer at my sons’ school, only tangentially touches the above and going would potentially take away from all three so it’s a no.
I’m fully aware this is enough blah, blah, blah from me (talk about preaching!), however, I guess what I’m saying is don’t put off today what you’ll no longer be able to do tomorrow.
And when it comes to writing, if it really is a big – or even medium-sized – rock in your life, just give it some time. Don’t write a novel yet but write your children a funny poem or write your cousin a long letter. Start small but start and see if, in some way, it can support the other big rocks in your life. Maybe you can be the communications rep. for your children’s school council – writing and family wrapped up together. Maybe you can write a great Christmas newsletter.
Just be careful of living for some day.