When you work full-time. When you are a stay-at-home mom or dad. When you are a single woman who farms. When you’re a mom or dad who works. When you are a human being . . . we all have reasons to not write. Sick children. A check engine light in the car. A chance to make more overtime. A mental health issue. An ailing parent.
But when we begin to use those reasons as excuses, or when we compare ourselves to others who do write and then use the elements of our lives – our spouses, our children, our jobs, our need to put in a fence – as scapegoats (pun mostly intended) for why we don’t, we’re hurting ourselves and, most importantly, we’re burdening the other parts of our lives with something for which they are not responsible. It’s not the fact that we have children that keeps us from writing. It’s not that we work full-time. It’s not that we have a farm to care for. The only thing that keeps us from writing is that we choose not to do it.
We may choose that for many reasons – because we want to give more time to our children, because we want the financial security of full-time work, because we want to get goats on our farms sometime in the next year – but whatever the thing we give our time to, we are choosing that thing. And that’s just fine. Really it is. It’s fine for us not to write. What’s not okay is when we play the martyr and act as if we weren’t married, or didn’t work, or didn’t have pasture to clear, we’d have more time.
Several times over the past few weeks, people have written me to say that they applaud my writing schedule or the time I give to my writing, but they just can’t do it because they are married or have kids or work full-time at something other than writing. I cannot tell you how frustrating and hurtful those statements are to me. As a single woman who works full-time as a writer, people seem to believe that suddenly I have 30 hours in every day and no other responsibilities. But the truth is that everything in my life – my bills, my housework, my income, my car, my volunteer work, and yes, my farm – are my responsibility. While I have a great support system who is immensely helpful to me, I don’t have a partner – ultimately, everything falls to me.
And you know what, that’s okay. I chose to buy a farm. I chose to write full-time. I chose to chair the Relay For Life. I have made these choices, and sometimes, they weigh on me, just as everyone’s choices are heavy at moments. But they are my choices, and if I want to write, I find a way to balance them and the time I want to put toward writing.
Every day, every single one of us has 24 hours to use. Some of us give the bulk of that time to a job and a commute. Some of us give that time to raising children. Some of us to building ministries. Some to television. But we all have the same amount of time, and if we want to write, we must find a way to put some of that time to words.
And sometimes, a child will get sick or a big project will come up at work. Honey the Hyundai may need new tires, or I might get a migraine (like today.) And sometimes the writing will have to be put aside for that moment, but it’s not the car’s or the job’s or the child’s fault – they are not to blame. These are just parts of life with the choices we have made. We can scapegoat, or we can accept. Then, later, we can write.
But please, let’s not act like other people can write because their lives are easier or less complicated. Let’s not pretend that “if only” we could write, too. That’s just one great lie that keeps us from the page. Let’s own our choices and write as we can. Each in our own way. No scapegoats. No comparisons. Just our own words, true and clear, in the time we have choice to give.
When you’re honest, who do you think has the “easier” writing life? For me, it’s that mysterious woman who has a patron and a cleaning crew in her mountain village.