Writing is hard.
Because it’s lonely and draining.
Because it takes a long time to get it right, or right enough.
Because it is a discipline.
Because we’re not getting paid. That makes people think it isn’t that valuable. Because we are doing this with merely hope that one day it will be something that other people value.
So practically, writing gets pushed aside. Money-making ventures take priority. So I waitress and freelance. Those I do for money, but not with joy or pride.
Sometimes I think about all the time I’m spending working a job I don’t love and I wince, but then I finger the dollar bills bulging in my pocket. And then I think of all the writing I might have done instead but didn’t and I wince again.
My kids are here and until a few weeks ago, I didn’t leave them in someone else’s care to write, because I felt guilty, and because that means not only does writing not make money, it also costs money. But now I do. I’m spending money because writing isn’t only something I do, it’s something I love and I will throw money at the pursuit of happiness for the rest of my days.
I could write in the evenings, or on the weekends, but that’s my only time when Steve isn’t at work, that’s our only time together, his only time to himself. I still do, but I feel guilty sometimes. I’m working on not feeling guilty.
Writing demands it.
And although it doesn’t end with a paycheck, it does have other positive results. Like a clearer head, a happier mom and wife: one who laughs and dances in the hallways and sings because I am lighter, lifted, without my unsaid words weighing me down like an anchor. I remember that I am more than just a mom and a wife, that I have a craft and it is a gift and to squander it would be sadder even than that waitress apron I stuff into a cupboard because I can’t bear the sight of it.
You can be a writer once you stop giving a fuck. Or once you start giving fucks about yourself.
With joy, and with pride. It’s a pretty badass thing, if you think about it: writing yourself into your dream. Selfish as fuck too, but that’s writers for ya.