When I began writing my blog, I was filled with enthusiasm. There were so many things I wanted to write about, my journey as a writer that I wanted to chronicle and other writers that I longed to reach out to. And I did manage to write on several of these topics. Then, there was a longish break in my writing. What happened was nothing unusual. It’s something that happens to all of us, something that comes in the way of fulfilling dreams and doing all the things you had planned to do.
Life. It happened.
How often have you met people who say they have always wanted to write but… I can guess what comes after the ‘but’. Illness, a child’s education, the need to hold on to a job, taking care of family members – the reasons are many but together they can all be clubbed under the overarching umbrella of – Life. Happening.
Life happens to all of us. It rudely interrupts our beautifully laid plans, it ruthlessly grabs our time and demands our attention and it proceeds to lay waste all our creative energies. What do we do when that happens? I know many writers who wait for the right time. Once the child is off to college, they say, they will focus on their writing. Once an ailing parent is back home, it will be time to write. And yes, this is an admirable and even practical approach to writing and life happening.
But we need to remember that life seldom follows the rules we lay for it. It is wilful and demanding and capable of taking you to places you never imagined going. So, how does a writer deal with life happening?
You just keep thinking and when possible, writing. I understand that every writer needs silence and the space to think and write. But I also feel that writers need life happening around them in order to write. We cannot all be The Lady of Shalott, isolated on an island while life flows around us, relying on the reflections we see in a mirror to create our magic. Any writing that is inspired by reflections is bound to be pale and underwhelming. Allow yourself, instead, to be inspired by the chaos life unleashes around you.
Early in my writing career most of my time was spent with my son. I chose to embrace all the small things that I had to do for him. The result – stories about school and fears and friends and homework. I wrote a lot of short stories in the time when my son had not yet started school. This was primarily because I wanted to spend time with him. But what could I do of the burning need to write? Short stories provided me the perfect compromise- I was able to use my experiences effectively and do it in a more economical time frame. This not only allowed me to mine the rich resources handed to me by my son every day, it also allowed me to continue writing.
And yes, when he finally started school I did write. I wrote journalism and short stories, I wrote novels and chapter books. I wrote them through illness and the demands of school, I wrote through personal lows and the increasingly difficult conversations about what he wanted to study at college.
That’s how, while life happened around me, I wrote.