Why I don’t write every day
and why I don’t feel guilty about that
A couple of years ago, during a fundraising event at a Bay Area library, one of the organizers asked me, “Do you write every day?”
“I haven’t written in months,” I blurted. I was a little surprised that the words had come out of my mouth. Although I often think them, I rarely put it so bluntly at events to which I am appearing in the role of The Writer Who Writes.
The organizer looked surprised. “Writers always say to write every day,” she said.
The truth is, during the months immediately before and after a book release, I rarely manage to make the time to work on a novel. I may write blog posts to promote the book, an essay here and there (the byline being a good way to alert folks that you have a new book out), literary playlists, interviews, and all manner of marketing material, but the kind of writing I enjoy the most — fiction — falls by the wayside. Beyond the marketing of my books, of course, are the necessary distractions of life. We all have them. Mine include being a mom, being a wife, teaching, and running a small press.
There are so many ways for us to feel that we are failing, so many ways to castigate ourselves for not living up to our full potential. Whenever I feel guilty about all the writing I’m not doing, I remind myself of one thing:I will never regret the hours spent in my kid’s classroom, or cheering his Little League game, or watching a movie on the couch with my husband, instead of writing. And while I prefer writing to book promotion, promotion is a necessary privilege: necessary to sustain my ability to earn an income as a writer, and a privilege because the events mean that someone is listening.
Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog, Golden State, and other novels and story collections. Her new novel will be published by Bantam in 2017. Go here to get updates about Michelle’s books and events. Go here to take a writing class with Michelle.