In the lull between semesters, as I scurry to get the grades in for one semester and the courses set up for the next, I find myself wanting to wedge between responsibility and whim. After all, what’s paying the bills is my teaching, not my writing.
But in that lull (a word which, really, is ironic as it’s applied to that space in time between semesters that’s neither here nor there), as it often happens when I’m overwhelmed or ecstatic or sorrowful or angry, I am consumed with the need to write. Any emotion that courses through me becomes a flame igniting the desire and need to put into words said emotions – either in the form of characters in a story, a personal essay, a poem, or just some scribbles somewhere.
I’ve often contemplated what a “writer’s life” means. Does it mean, as the romanticized version leads us to believe, that one must sequester oneself from the world, live in misery and abuse, contemplate suicide, and skirt the borders of sanity? Does it mean that a wife and mother with a day job can’t live the writer’s life? Absolutely not! A writer’s life means the dedication and commitment to keep pursuing that passion of words that brings about a flurry of emotions to oneself and one’s readers. It means carving out some time of one’s busy schedule (and we all know our schedules are busy) to read and write and learn. Because a writer’s life is one of constant sacrifice and discovery.
I’m leading a writer’s life by writing every day as much as I can. By giving life to characters and stories, either made up or real, and by discovering and rediscovering who I am in relation to those characters of my past and present. I’m navigating through this uncertain territory of writing and publication, redefining who I am, and learning that there’s more than one way of having a writer’s life. Though some aspects of a writer’s life might be ideal (as in weeks or months of solitude to only write), the ideal is what we make of it. I take the minutes and hours I can get – in between naps, a night’s stay at grandma’s, a day out with daddy, some hours at Starbucks – and make a writer’s life out of it.