In our great discussion on Friday, Margo got me thinking about timing and writing. When is it a good time to become a writer? At what point in our lives can we take our dream of writing seriously? Many of us have jobs, kids, and other time-consuming commitments. Sometimes it’s even poor health that gets in our way. Yet, as Margo pointed out, ideas keep coming and the fire to write doesn’t quell just because we haven’t the time. So I’m wondering, friends, what do you do when life or health or whatever won’t dish out an hour or more a day to let you write? Do you stop? Do you wait? Do you make do with the time you have?
It’s probably not a coincidence that I’m thinking about this just as summer break has hit. My schedule is in upheaval and the warm weather beckons me outdoors most of the day. But despite it all, as I said on Friday, I can’t fight the urge to write. So I work it in and make do with the time I’m given. Because all things considered, there probably never IS a perfect point in our lives to write. There will always be something that keeps us from the ideal. And even if there were an ideal time, I can’t say as I would want to wait. These stories are aching to be told right now for one thing. For another, I don’t really want to be at the end of my days, as Susan pointed out, having never tried for my life’s dream of publishing those stories. I’m reminded of how many authors have overcome time-constraining factors and managed to write their greatest works while inhibited:
1. Jane Austen suffered from what was likely Addison’s Disease. I’m sure there were many days she didn’t feel good enough to sit at her little writing desk and yet she did.
2. Jo Rowling was depressed, out of work, recently divorced, and had a new baby. If these obstacles would have stopped her, we would never had had Harry. (You know, those books that opened the door to many other kidlit books).
3. Charles Darwin suffered from an unknown illness that caused severe headaches, fevers and debilitating stomach pains. Yet he worked through the pain, tirelessly writing, researching, and thinking.
4. Virginia Woolf could only stand to write her books, her mental illness and eccentricities forcing the habit. Even if she couldn’t sit, she found a way to write regardless.
5. Hans Christian Anderson was word blind and dyslexic. How many lives have been blessed by his stories?
6. Avi, Fanny Flagg, Agatha Christie, James Joyce, William Yeats, Gustave Flaubert are/were also dyslexic and discouraged from pursuing writing as a profession.
7. Many authors are tortured by mental illness, two prominent yet prolific ones being Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy. They used their experiences to add depth and a reality to their words.
I could go on, but I’ll leave you to mention any other inspiring cases in the comments. Instead, I’ll just quote Jane Yolen, "Just write. If you have to make a choice, if you say, 'Oh well, I'm going to put the writing away until my children are grown,' then you don't really want to be a writer. If you want to be a writer, you do your writing. . . if you don't do it, you probably don't want to be a writer, you just want to have written and be famous—which is very different."
I’ll be visiting my mom and dad most of the week, so I apologize if I’m a little slow in getting back to you. Be assured I will eventually, though. I promise! (And for those of you that know about my mom’s poor health, please keep her in your prayers again. The chemo clinical trial she was involved with just dropped her from the study. Now the course of treatment is kind of up in the air—a bit scary, but we're keeping positive.)
Have a lovely week, everyone!