I’m Fine. FINE.
I don’t know where to begin.
It’s been a busy month. Let’s start with that. I logged in here to clean up spam and realized it’s been over a month since I posted anything. What have I done with myself in that time? Well, I have not been writing, that’s clear. I’m no further on my edits for Bloodbonded than I was on January 19. I have, however, been very busy with my American Heritage Girls troop–planning, coordinating, meeting, and dealing with all the minutiae. And I’ve been busy with kids. There’s always that.
But not writing.
I’m kind of fed up with myself right now. I have been trying to figure out why I have such an aversion to writing, and I just don’t know. There are dozens of reasons–none of them even remotely good enough to justify that profound lack of time I’ve been putting into my art. A disturbing amount of the reasons have to do with my ridiculously negative self-talk. I would never tell any other writer–or any other person, for that matter–some of the things I tell myself. I tell myself so many lies and half-truths about writing that it’s hard to even figure out what’s true anymore. For instance:
“You’re not good enough to call yourself a writer/publish your work/expect anyone to pay for this.” Okay, for reals, I have to stop doing this for about a thousand reasons. First of all, it’s just not true. I’m not saying I’m Cormac McCarthy or Neil Gaiman or Toni Morrison or whoever, but I’m also not a host of other people who–let’s face it–aren’t very good writers. I’m a decent writer. I’m probably a reasonably good writer. Sure, there are things I can work on, but everyone in every profession everywhere has weaknesses and stuff to work on. I have to stop expecting perfection and start embracing the ambiguity and imperfections that come with being an artist.
“This is a complete waste of time.” So what? So is time spent on Facebook, arguably. So is crocheting and knitting, probably. Define “waste of time.” If I waste my time on something that feeds my soul–even if no one else ever sees it–is that a waste of time? A friend pointed out to me today that that “sweet spot”–that thing that makes you feel really alive, that place where you’re using your gifts–is a place of worship. So if all I do is create words and stories and write them down and no one else ever sees them, it’s still an act of worship, and worship is never a waste of time. If no one hears me singing hymns when I’m cleaning house, God still hears me. He still receives that worship. Why is writing any different?
“You are too busy to fit this into your life.” This one is probably in the category of “half truths.” I am ridiculously busy. But I am starting to understand that I need to set some boundaries on my time. I need to find a way to rabidly protect a few hours a day in which I can practice my art. That probably means ducking out on family time now and then. That probably means saving housework till when the kids are here, even though it really sucks to try to work around them. It probably means that when summer rolls around, I need to close the door and give myself permission to work on my stuff. I need to let other people do things that they can do so that I can do the one thing only I can do. This is a lot easier said than done, and it’s going to be painful for a while. I don’t know how this part will go. I have to work on the other stuff first, I think.
“There is no money in this, and you should not be taking time away from the family/AHG/the kids/etc. to do something that has no ROI.” You know what? There’s no money in most of the things I do with my time. Most of them require that I spend money. Crocheting, knitting, sewing? I don’t sell my stuff. I don’t write patterns. I make stuff and give it away, because that brings me joy. Cleaning house, making dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework? There’s no money in those things. I don’t even like some of them… okay, most of them (except laundry–I like doing laundry). But I do those things because that’s how I care for my family, and I love my family. AHG? I like the program, but the work doesn’t bring in money. It’s a volunteer gig that costs a lot of time and money. But I do it because it’s an investment in girls–in future mothers, wives, nurses, CEOs, artists, teachers, leaders, etc. Because I want to live in a world that’s populated by confident, brave women of integrity, and I believe our program helps shape girls to be those women. So maybe it’s okay that there’s no ROI on writing. Maybe the ROI is one I can’t see. And even if the only ROI is that spending time on my art makes me a better mom, wife, leader, friend, that’s still ROI. That should be enough.
The last few weeks have been full of moments where people spoke the opposite of these messages into my head.
“It’s okay to have a thing that is just for you.”
“Not everyone can do this thing you do. This is why you were made.”
“What brings you joy? Writing? Then you need to accept that gift.”
And on and on, so many times, over and over.
I don’t know why this is such a struggle for me.
I realized recently that I spend a lot of time wishing I were someone else. Not a specific someone else, but someone who does those things other people do that I don’t do.
“I wish I contributed to our income.”
“I wish I were wired to homeschool.”
“I wish I were a better decorator/housekeeper/cook.”
“I wish I could write *that* stuff.”
I think I need to stop wishing I were someone else and start concentrating on being a better me. And I think a significant step in that process includes making time for writing, because that’s who I am and how I’m wired. And I think I need to stop apologizing for all those things I’m not, because in a way, it’s a slap in the face to the One who created me to do this thing that’s unique to me. I can say I love Jesus, but when I’m sitting here telling Him that He was wrong and made a mistake wiring me the way He wired me, how is that worshipful, loving, or obedient? That’s the same pride that drove me to put writing in His place a few years ago. I just managed to flip it and use it in a new and inspiring way.
I have this thing I do when God tells me to do something. I argue with Him until I’ve exhausted myself, and then I finally slap the proverbial notebook or file folder on the metaphorical table and shout to the heavens, “FINE! FINE! Stop nagging me, for the love of You. I’ll do it, but I’m not happy about it, and you need to know that this is really crappy of you to expect this of me.”
And then He usually says something like, “yeah, I mean, it’s totally unreasonable given that whole ‘death-on-a-Roman-cross-rose-on-the-third-day-redemption’ thing.”
(The Jesus in my head is kind of sarcastic. He speaks my love language.)
So this is where I am today. Slapping the folder on the table and shouting “FINE!” to the heavens.
I guess I’ll write. I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do.