A few years ago I was at a writing conference. One of the speakers, an esteemed and prominent agent on the West Coast asked this question: What do you have standing between you and a full commitment to writing?
He asked everyone in the audience to stand. Then he asked all who had ten things standing between them and a full-time daily or hourly commitment to writing, and would those please take their seat. A majority sat. He asked those who had five things standing between them and a full daily, hourly, moment-to-moment commitment to writing to take their seat. The majority of the people left standing sat. He asked who, of the few left, had two things that were more important than a writing career to sit. Many more people sat. And then he asked who had one thing that was more important than their writing career to sit. In the end, only one person was left standing out of two hundred. He pointed to that person and said, “That person will be a successful writer.”
Talk about guilt trip.
But let me talk just say something: Life is what it is. When both my children were in college my husband and I had time on our hands. No more sports events to attend, no more Saturdays coordinating the things that needed coordinating for the children to have a great life. We were free. We went for day trips around Texas. We spent our weekend mornings doing – you guessed it – nothing! After the initial shock of leaving the children in Lubbock (Texas Tech), which is nine hours drive away (Yes, still in Texas), we felt liberated. And I had time to write. I wrote. Lots.
It was fun.
Then, a year after my son graduated and came home from college with a good job, he was ensconced in his nice apartment. Things didn’t stay that way. Life is always about change, isn’t it? He decided it would be good to move back home to save money to buy his own home. He came home with his little Chiweiner dog.
Then my daughter sent me an email with pictures of her new puppy. WHAT? Not good. I told her she had to get rid of the puppy. After all, she couldn’t have a puppy while attending school and living in an apartment with other girls. She was sad.
A few days later her dad asked her (on the phone) why she was so sad. She said that I (the mom) had told her to get rid of her puppy. Her dad said, “I didn’t say you had to get rid of it. You can keep it.”
THAT didn’t go over so well with me and here’s why: The puppy that was supposed to be only 45 pounds according to the pound was already 45 pounds at six months. It’s all about the big feet – puppies with big feet grow to be big dogs. And guess what? By Easter, when the puppy was six months old, the roommates had decided they no longer wanted to live with the dog. So the dog came home to live with us. Now here is a run down of the animals we had in the house – a monster puppy, a chiweiner, an ancient chihuahua, and three cats.
Those of you who have puppies know how hard it is to write with a puppy who barks at nothing, needs to pee at weird times, and has a sensitive stomach, ie, throws up stuff for no reason. So in the middle of struggling over the search for just the right word for just the right sentence the dog throws up his breakfast under my computer. Yuck?
This was not such a disaster because I still had time to redirect my thoughts and get back into the “zone” for getting my writing right after I had dealt with the doggie. Besides, the dog adored me so he couldn’t be all bad, right? I soon decided that I had a good dog on my hands although no one else in our circle of friends thought so. They thought I had “lost it” in my desire to keep this mongrel. He was uncontrollable, was sick on the carpet daily, and he had a pee-holding problem. With a big dog these things are big.
About this time my daughter came home to go to college in our city. She moved back in with us also.
Then my father got sick. I spent considerable time at his bedside but it wasn’t much time in the long run. By the time he was diagnosed he was in the end stages of pancreatic cancer. I had twenty-one days between diagnosis and his death to deal with his confusion and with my mother who couldn’t take care of herself. We moved her in with us. Then we had to deal with their house, which they had taken out a loan for and then had nothing to pay back the loan. So it was going to the bank. But we had to clean it out before that. The house was packed with stuff. Lots of stuff. It took several of us, and several months with friends and family, to get it in order and get it emptied.
My mother lived with me for eight months until she was strong enough to live on her own in a senior apartment, which she loved. Now she is in a nursing home because she requires twenty-four-hour care. My parents-in-law we moved down from Arkansas because they were falling and getting sick and needed care. We moved them into an independent living situation very nearby. We spend time with them, helping them out.
My daughter lived with us and went to college nearby. About two weeks after she graduated she told us she was expecting. She got a good job out of college and has an even better job now. I take care of our precious grand girl.
The difference between our aged parents and our little grand girl isn’t very different. The sameness is scary. It brings it home as to what we might expect when we are in our dotage.
Listen folks. Some things are more important than that agent’s idea of what a REAL writer should be doing.
If nothing of mine is traditionally published I still WIN! I have a great family. I love my family and my family loves me. I don’t expect the world cares a burnt peanut about that but that isn’t important. What is important is that my family is healthy and happy.
And I have a great dog.
- Help my Puppy is Driving Me Crazy…6 Tips to Avoid Puppy Stress (wagthedoguk.com)
- How to Pamper Your Dog (apartmentguide.com)
- welcoming back my words (carolineclunk.com)
3 thoughts on “Not a Complaint, An Affirmation”
I am in the throes of “I want to write, but have no TIME!” Blogging was my breakthrough this year, and some small magazine articles. But my husband asks me why it takes so long to write for these! Ha!
Great post! You’ve pretty much depicted the reality of the writing life for most of us. Love your affirmation and your courageous redefinition of “success.” I’m going to stop feeling guilty, too.
You’re a very smart lady, Rebecca. You DO win! And I’d love to meet that monster dog someday!