Where Am I Going, Where Have I Been?

I’ve been stuck on what to write about this week. Sometimes life becomes so busy that you don’t have the time to spend thinking about what you really care about–you barely have time to do it. I think that’s where you have to salvage your writing, in the doing.

I’ve been working one main job this summer and random temp jobs that I can scrape together to make ends meet. This past week, my friend and I worked in a warehouse packing boxes with eco-friendly samples of lotions, cereal, toothbrushes, and menopause pills–anything that you can think of, but made out of recycled materials or else cruelty-free.

When not mopping floors, he was writing some of the greatest short stories of the twentieth century.
When not mopping floors, he was writing some of the greatest short stories of the twentieth century.

Working at a job like this doesn’t leave much time for the mind. You become your body, all thoughts equaling actions. There is no pondering, only moving the line. The one saving grace of this (besides eating samples of vegan food) was coming home at night and maybe having the brain capacity to write. If I was lucky, I could write a whole paragraph; most nights it was a few sentences before I passed out from sheer exhaustion. Are writers meant for manual labor? Ask Raymond Carver, I guess.

It’s a terrifying feeling when the world gets in the way of your writing. You want to believe that you will always write, that the characters and plots bouncing around in your head will never quiet down, never cease to exist. And yet there are bills and there are relationships and there bad jobs and there are nights you wish you could forget. Suddenly life becomes overbearing, when all you really wanted was to find a way to reconcile your daughter protagonist to her father by the end of the story without it seeming sentimental.

I can’t say how to prioritize. If I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I don’t force a deadline-driven schedule on myself. Perhaps discipline comes with age. I can only say that whatever it is that keeps the stories bubbling under the surface–guilt, passion, insanity–that doesn’t go away. So I have to figure out how to reconcile my desire to write with my need to get by. This isn’t an easy task. But I’m not the first nor will I be the last writer who faces this struggle. Until I figure out how best to juggle life’s responsibilities with following my passion, I’ll have to keep trying. That’s all you can do, really.

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