Thursday, June 3, 2010

Selfish Hedonism and The Writer's Life

There are times when guilt hits me out of the blue with a poisoned dart; when the voice of discouragement whispers in my ear that the writing life is one of supreme selfishness.

Because it is.

Yes, I try to hold to a schedule--some days more successfully than others. I turn on the computer when the kids go out the door to school and turn it off when they come home. Most days. But in the meantime, in those too-quickly-passing hours spent in that Other World, there is not much I am doing to benefit my family or the world at large.

But, I argue, I must also serve my calling! How can I attend to the basic, mundane functions of running of a household (laundry, dishes, meal planning, grocery shopping, vehicle maintenance, etc.) when my mind is so fully engaged elsewhere?

When I am deep within a story, so deep that my soul is rent and my very hearts blood appears upon the screen, my vision tunnels to all else.

I suppose that is rather selfish.

That my writing has yet to make a significant financial contribution to the family makes this "career choice" seem self-serving. That the need to acquire books, training in the craft, and attend conferences actually causes a financial burden to the household makes me cringe. Who, besides me, is benefitting from these hours spent extracting the venom and honey from my soul to the screen? Well, no one... yet. Perhaps, with a book contract in hand and an advance on its way I wouldn’t feel that this pursuit is so utterly hedonistic—so self-serving.

But then again, I have to remind myself, even without a paycheck, writing is cheaper than therapy.

So this is the cost of my calling—my passionate pursuit. To live with the knowledge that even if a contract never materializes, even if only my friends and relatives and those I pay for professional editing services ever read the completed novels, I have to keep writing.

I really don’t have a choice in the matter. The stories must be told.

Today is my kids’ last day of school. So here I sit, just shy of 8 am, still in my pajamas, with a hot cup of the Nectar of Inspiration. Today’s creamer choice is White Chocolate Mocha. I’m banking on it working for me, helping to keep the flow… eventually. First, there is a phone call to make, an appointment to keep, and a shower to take—not necessarily in that order. There is a dishwasher to unload and reload, a breakfast table to wash, and a dog to walk.

Perhaps by noon I will make my way back to this disorganized, paper and book-strewn desk; back to my soft brown chair and my tin of Godiva Pearls--dark chocolate with mint--and a fresh, steaming cup of the writer's ambrosia, brewed extra bold. I will power up my computer and lean in to sniff the air like a hound. I will rediscover the trail I was forced to leave off from yesterday and, when I catch its scent, I will immerse myself in a few precious hours of hedonism; a few beautifully aching hours of traveling to that otherworld where Fiction Mirrors Truth.

1 comment:

Tracy Krauss said...

You are so eloquently funny! You should put some of your posts together and get them published as a book - "Confessions of a Hedonist" or something. This post is priceless.