Recently I found myself overwhelmed, cornered by the usual problems that prey on writers and mothers like me: no time to write, no time to think, no time to exhale, no time to be the kind of parent I want to be blah blah blah. I won’t go on because whining is boring and I think I’ve squashed the worst of it now. But I will confess that at one point I did wonder if being a writer was something I still wanted to do. I wondered what it would feel like to stop. Just quit. Forever. I speculated that perhaps I’d feel lighter. Perhaps I’d feel freer with one less thing tantruming for my attention, one less thing to make room for.
At first when I noticed myself slipping into the bog of business I tried lamely to convince myself that I’d be okay without writing for a while. The writing could wait. I asked it to kindly take a seat and wait patiently in the corner. “Please be quiet,” I said. “I’ll be with you later.” But that didn’t work. I continued to feel agitated, pestered by voices and stories wanting to be written. What was worse though was that after a time those voices and stories gave up. No one was listening to them and so neglected and shrivelled those stories lost their true voice. But they didn’t go away. They continued to mew in the corner, prodding me occasionally and making me cranky. Not writing was making me cranky and it occurred to me that giving up writing altogether was maybe the solution.
I wouldn’t have to give up being an author after all. Once an author always an author right? I could probably stop writing and swan around calling myself an author for at least another few years. Big Rain Coming was reprinted again at the start of this year, Littledog came out in paperback in April and My Dad Thinks He’s Funny has just been shortlisted for the Australian Children’s Choice Awards. I could give up writing, still be an author, and have one less thing to worry about.
But it’s not actually about being an author. It’s about being a writer.
The funny thing is that the one time in my adult life when I stopped to question whether or not I could continue to keep writing was a time in my life when I wasn’t actually writing very much. The more I pushed writing away the more trapped I felt.
I’ve written before about my flaky writing process. When I write I feel free. It’s not about making strict rules for myself around word counts and daily hours. It’s about listening. It’s about relaxing and letting my sub conscious work for me. But I think lately my whole self has been too stressed to listen. I need to tune back in. I need to write.
For me writing is like exercise. I’m actually a whole lot happier when I dedicate time to it but after a break it’s extra painful. I procrastinate and make excuses because I know it will hurt. Writing is harder when I don’t engage in it regularly. This post has taken me a week to write. (I’m a slow worker.) But as I’ve written this I’ve been visited by lots of other ideas. I’m listening again, because I’m writing again, and the shrunken mewing stories are regaining their power. And wow. It feels good.
Give up writing. What was I thinking?
Have you ever considered giving up something you love?
Giving Up © Katrina Germein 2011