Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Work

Someone has been sharing pieces written by a long time writer about 'protecting the work' preaching the importance of making others take your writing time seriously. I get that. Honest. I began writing when my kids were in diapers. I wrote through every stage from colic to college, 6 moves through, family crisis and health issues, through part time jobs and full time job loss and while I always took my writing seriously (and raised my kids to do the same) the thing that taught me was just the opposite.
The work is not your life. Protect the stuff that isn't the work.

Protect the joy. Protect the fun. Protect your health. Protect your relationships. Protect the adventure. Yes, even protect the heartbreak. Don't subvert all that to 'the work'. Get your priorities straight. If you are always in the business of protecting the work, in this case, writing, then you are never in the moment, never fully experiencing life.

I can still remember making the choice to leave a party early to go home and write. I wondered at the time where my joy had gone and promised not to let 'the work' take over to that extent again. It doesn't happen, says the person who took notes during her emergency room visit (causing the monitors to go off when my pressing the pen in my fingers cut off the tubing).

This fall I was so focused on 'the work' but 'the work' wasn't cooperating. Still, I did that 'put work first' thing and pressed on writing. What I've ended up with is page after page I've had to delete because I didn't have perspective.

The truth was that the end of the last chapter was a weak foundation. That's not the issue here, though. It's that I'd have seen that a lot sooner if I had remembered to protect the stuff that matters, to stop spinning my wheels, to set the laptop on the tabletop and take my lap out for a walk.

Writing - or whatever your passion or hobby or work - should be taken seriously. It does take time and commitment and focus, but then so does anything worthwhile. Your life is worthwhile. Protect it.