Monday, March 3, 2014

Sustaining your Soul

Good morning. Since I took the job at Monster's school, I've had the opportunity to meet lots of people. Most of them Moms. Some of them work, some of them don't. Lots of them volunteer at the school like I do. (There's lots of stuff to do.)

I've always worked. All my life. I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't. Writing is a job. So that's what I do now. I had an interesting question from one of the Moms last week. She asked, "What do you do when you're NOT writing."

I kind of laughed. "What do you mean? I clean my house." And you guys know what I'm talking about here.

She said, "No. Not like that. What do you do for fun?"

I said, "I write."

She said, "No, I mean, don't you do other stuff? Like scrap book, or bake cookies, or paint. Surely, you can't write all the time. Doesn't that get boring?"

How could I explain it to her. Even when I was working all those years, even when I worked 2 and 3 jobs at a time, I always wrote. (I have a cedar chest full of manuscripts -- all of them garbage, but mine nonetheless.)

I can't NOT write. I think if someone took away my keyboard I would die. (Yes, the same goes for pen and paper, chalk, crayon, pencil, hieroglyphics.) I cannot ever think of my life in any circumstance and not write. Sure, I may not have written every day when I was younger, sure, I have many many unfinished manuscripts, but I always wrote. It's not something I DO, but rather, it's part of WHO I am.

It sustains my soul.

I'm sure if I searched I could find oh-so-many-quotes on the subject with words to describe it like passion, fulfillment, joy. It completes me.

When I was younger I always maintained, that when a job stopped being fun, I would quit. No matter the pay, the hours, the benefits. And I did. If I can't have fun at work, then why bother. I'm not going to my grave like my forebears before me, working 40 hours a week at a job I despise just to put bread on the table and hope for two weeks off in the summer. Sure I made money, sometimes lots of money, but that's not what it's all about for me. I've also been poor as a church mouse and happier than I could ever be.

Now that I'm here, in this job as a writer/author/publisher, sure it gets to be trying at times. Sure, working through a block, or a formatting issue makes me want to scream sometimes, but I could never give it up. Never Never Never. Only when it stops being fun.

Writing sustains me. Without it, I wouldn't know who I am. And just for fun, I did another experiment. We know that I just finished writing the end on my latest novel. It's now with critters and readers and I just have to wait until it comes back until I can further it along. I officially sent it out on Monday the 17th. For the rest of that week, I cleaned my house. (Yes, it took that long.) Once that was finished, I looked around for something to do.

I thought about reading a book. (How long has it been since I read for pleasure and not critique?)

I thought about going shopping and picking out some new clothes. (My wardrobe is atrocious. I should be on that show What NOT to Wear.)

I thought about ripping the wallpaper down in my bathroom and painting.

I thought about rearranging the furniture again.

Guess what I did? Nothing. I watched the Downton Abbey marathon a few Sundays ago and that was pretty much it on my fun-scale. Monday morning I found myself back on the computer, scratching out an outline for another title.

Some people say I'm dedicated to my craft. Some people say I'm crazy. Some people say I'm boring because that's all I do is write.

I say I'm sustaining my soul.

Tell me -- Can you not write? Does it sustain you? Is there something else you'd rather be doing than writing? (And yeah, we all have dreams of winning the lottery and traveling the world, but after that? What then?)

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


R. Mac Wheeler said...


Just hi.


J.B. Chicoine said...

Well, I don't know if writing is 'soul sustaining' for me, but it definitely spikes my serotonin levels! If I'm not writing, I need to paint or have some other creative project or I start getting squirrely.

On the flipside, if I spend too many hours or days in a row writing, my brain goes on overload. I don't think I will ever know true balance!

Talli Roland said...

YES! Definitely, I need to write. I can be dropping down tired, but if I don't write, then life feels... flat. I wouldn't say I always find writing easy and it's often a struggle, but it's something I need to do.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Since I've been writing full time instead of trading sleep for writing time, I feel like I hit the lottery. A job that is endless enjoyment.

Sarah Ahiers said...

mmm, Downton Abbey...

I do a lot of things. I play a lot of video games and board games. I cook and bake. I hang out with my family and friends. I go out to eat. I go to movies, or the zoo or the conservatory.

But a lot of the time i just watch tv or read.

Maria Zannini said...

This reminds me how I started writing in the first place. I was living alone a lot of the time. Aside from my day job, I had finished painting and redecorating my new house, put in my garden, finished a set of adult education classes, and now I had NOTHING to do.

One night, I opened a new file document in Word and started writing. I was hooked. It's not the end-all of favorite things to do, though it is in the top five.

Anne Gallagher said...

Mac -- HI Mac! *waves* Just hi back.

Bridget -- Yeah, too much writing gets to be tough at times. But until I get my break during the summer, that's all I do.

Talli -- Yes, that's the word -- FLAT. I think I would rather play with my characters than be with real people sometimes.

Susan -- Yes, that's how I felt too when I first decided to write full time. Like I hit the lottery. Now, though, sometimes it does feel like a job, but that's okay, because it's one I enjoy.

Sarah -- I envy you that life. Although, I had a life before Monster was born. Maybe someday I'll have it again.

Maria -- Funny, I keep saying when I get some time off I'm going to do all those things -- get the house in order, garden, get my MFA. Someday when I'm rich and almost famous.

Linda G. said...

I suppose I could get by without writing if I had to, but I wouldn't be as happy. :)

Liza said...

If I won the lottery, I'd go to school to take more writing classes and then do more writing! If I am not writing, I might be cooking or gardening, but they don't stick with me as long. Once in a while I give writing a short break...a day or two. And then I get twitchy and HAVE to sit down and write something.

I meant to ask you if you were a Downton fan. So glad you are!

Patti said...

I do love writing, but I do need to do other stuff as well, although I have been putting off painting a room since September.