Thursday, October 15, 2015
Time To Write, Time To Live
All writers struggle with balance. As a poet, I generally don't need long stretches of time for actual composition of poems, but I can benefit from an hour or two every day or so for "secretarial" duties. Lately though, I seem to require being alone in the house to get anything done. I bought my Roommate headphones so that in our tiny, open house I can do my thing while he watches "The Andy Griffith Show" or "The Walking Dead" without disturbing me. He is very accommodating, although half-jokingly complains about time I spend at my desk, but with a full-time job and limited waking hours, I have to make choices. Often even this kind of extreme cooperation doesn't seem to be enough.
I have recommitted (again) to the gym and to a weekly yoga class right around the corner, after blowing off everything for the last several months (and consequently not fitting into my jeans anymore), so that is another bit of time unavailable for art. I have some success in the morning, if I can be at my desk by 6:15 a.m. or so. I am able to get in 30 to 45 minutes of writing, or typing up of longhand first drafts. But sometimes mornings don't work out the way I plan.
I didn't realize how much slacking off affects how well I feel. My joints and tendons are entering the second half of their first century, and without constant attention, they do complain. I have always existed mainly in my head, but I realize now that in order to accomplish what I would like to, I need to maintain my body as a reasonably fit vehicle for my brain. I will never be a runner or a runway model. I already have Diva locked up, because physical beauty is not a major qualification for that title. But fitness and the ability to spend what time I have writing are, regrettably, permanently intertwined.
Oddly, I can find the solitude I seem to require in a room full of strangers. The library is a particularly comfortable location, when I don't run into old acquaintances I'd rather not see. But when I can settle into my favorite corner desk, I am good for 2 or 3 solid hours of writing, if my schedule allows. This is not to say that my Roommate actively discourages me from writing in the house, by the way. My ex-husband's horrific behavior comes to mind, where he would read my poems while I was at work (he worked nights), and use the contents to accuse me yet again of multiple infidelities, more than most humans have the stamina for, even in their 20s. My Roommate is nothing like that. In fact, I know him to be a creative soul himself.
Ultimately, I don't think there is one-solution-fits-all answer. My mood changes. My commitments change. The worth of my efforts changes. I usually think it is very important for me to finish all the projects I've started before I die. Then there are times when what I do, what we all do, matters not a bit. Sort of a 'dust in the wind' view, acknowledging the impermanence all around us, including our stories. Is the value in the effort? In the sharing now?
(photo courtesy Jim Sugrue)