Life (Thankfully) Happened
To write you must live. I never understood those words till I decided to put my well being before everything. Even my passion for writing.
I remembered reading the quote on one of those cheesy 90s posters hanging up in the school library. “In order to write well, you must live it first” it proclaimed. I wondered if anyone in the school system thought about this when they were making Animal Farm required reading. When the hell had anyone had talking animals?! Being the budding writer at that age, I took those words to heart never realizing how damaging they could be.
When I got older, I forced my introvert self out into places and events I normally wouldn’t do, simply because I wanted to write better characters and stories. To do that I had to live what I wanted to write about.
What a load of bullshit.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and live. Learning new things and bettering yourself as a person are wonderful goals. Forcing yourself to do things, even things you don’t enjoy and are damaging, for the soul reason of “suffering for your art” is awful. You don’t make your life better by tearing yourself apart.
I spent so much time trying to live by force, I forgot what it was like just to be in the moment. The beginning of this year marked a massive change for me. Normally people make resolutions and have a hard time sticking to them. This year I made goals, ones I knew with hard work and dedication, I could reach. The first and foremost was the most important. I would take better care of myself, both mentally and physically. The second was to write something every week.
To help with the second goal I made a 52 Week Challenge to help me write.
Then life happened. Real, beautiful, challenging life. I went to my first Drag Show. Learned how to reconnect with my real, deeper friendships. Supported the best and most loving of my little tribe. Went to SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) events and reconnected with history buffs, and hung out with friends from all over the country. I stopped just getting by, I started thriving again. I got sick, got better, and took stock of my physical limits. I signed up for more, travel more, do more.
I missed my own self-imposed deadlines. I felt horrible, at first.
I realized my forced writing wasn’t helping me anymore. I wasn’t getting better, I was only forcing myself to do the motions without learning or growing from the experience. I still want to finish my 52 Week Challenge, but I’m not beating myself up for it anymore. I know they say “You only get readers by being predictable and entertaining” but I’m not out for readers. I’m out to be better. Both in writing, and as a person.
While I will continue the 52 Week Challenge, I will also be posting other things. Because life happened while I was making other plans. Plans are nice, but living is better.