Thursday, May 20, 2010

Writing vs. Life

When I started this blog back in January, the idea was to get back into the habit of writing on a semi-regular basis.

Many hours during high school and college were spent jotting down ideas, raking them over, picking out the gems, and forming them into fanciful stories or amusing little essays. When I met my lovely wife, much of my creative energy shifted from writing fiction to writing her love letters and poems. That was absolutely fine with me. It's the act of writing that I enjoy, and writing to her provided a release for me and, hopefully, some entertainment for her (although it did get a little stalker-ish at times).

As the years have passed, the responsibilities of life have taken over and left little time for writing. Somewhere along the way -- I truly believe with the arrival of our lovely daughter -- it just became too difficult to focus on writing. I am easily distracted and relentlessly forgetful, so I am certain that I tried writing stories that got stuck in the backs of notepads and eventually got thrown away. I've attended far too many meetings, trainings and conferences over the last 20 years not to have written something to entertain myself while I ignored whomever was lecturing. Unfortunately, writing requires the ability to return to the material and review it, amend it, restructure it. I simply did not have the time.

Please don't think I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Writing may be a dream that has never let go of me but my life without writing has been more full and rewarding than I could ever have imagined. I have three amazing children and a lovely wife who loves me and puts up with me and thinks I am funny. (Really, how bad can life be if, after 15+ years of marriage, I can still make my companion and best friend laugh to the point of incontinence.) I have a blessed life and I wouldn't change anything that has led me here.

Something about life, the very hectic thing that moved me away from writing, now seems to have brought me back around to it. I shouldn't even say "life" moved me away from writing because it isn't life's fault at all. Time is the real culprit.

When the children arrived, time became a precious commodity. Bath time, diapers, feedings, day care, sleepless nights, emergencies, singing songs, homework, school productions, concerts, road trips, scouts, dance recitals, assembling Christmas presents, watching movies, assembling birthday presents -- all the things that make life wonderful take so much time they leave little for selfish, self-indulgent endeavors like writing.

Suddenly, though, there seems to be more time. Not consistently, mind you, as witnessed by the fact of this being my first blog in the month of May. The children simply are self-sufficient in ways that adult hovering no longer is necessary. They are becoming their own people and interacting with their friends, developing their own social circles and moving happily in them. They still require our time but in fits and bursts, in busy weeks or months that string together at a maddening pace and then abruptly stop, leaving us with spare moments here and there to reconnect and recharge.

Last year, during one of those moments, the writing bug started buzzing around my head again. I eventually found myself able to complete thoughts on paper. While I built a small stockpile of poorly written and ill-conceived rubbish, I kept pointing out to myself that they were, at least, conceived and written. My thoughts turned to blogging last fall. It took until January to build up the courage to throw my trifles out there to the cyber winds. Now, I am looking to both the future and the past.

While working at my first post-college job as a local newspaper reporter, I started developing the notion that I wanted to write something weightier than a short story or a love letter. I started developing characters I thought could hold my interest for 75 or 100 pages, maybe even longer. While I never did write the story, it has stuck with me. Every year I seem to add a new piece to the puzzle. A new character here, a new plot twist there, some backstory layered in. Somehow this idea has refused to die.

So, I have come to the conclusion that it is time to write it and to chronicle my exercise here in the blogosphere. I have no idea how long it will take, whether it will be good, or if I will ever finish it. I know only two things: (1) I will regret never having tried if I don't make the effort, and (2) If life decides to get in the way again I will let it.

My desire to achieve this dream will never be as strong as my desire to enjoy my family, my friends, and my life.

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