Writing Around Life

You have to write every day, if you want to be a writer.

Everyone says that.

Okay, maybe not everyone, but enough people to make it seem likjune-children-s-day-calendar-symbol-white-cube-41085882e everyone.

But what about life? You know, living? Doing the living stuff, like sleeping and eating and earning money and taking care of the kids / elderly parents / needy loved ones. What about that stuff?
I began this writing adventure exactly three years ago when I finally discovered I had a story I wanted to tell. At that time I was a senior consultant with a hard-working wife, two adult children, the greatest granddaughter ever born, a large group of friends and a serious passion for nature photography.

When does a guy write?

I’m a morning person so I moved the morning up a couple hours. The alarm started its annoying buzz at 5 a.m. Not that bad for a morning person, especially in the summer when it’s lighting up out there at 5 a.m. During the winter, it got harder.

I kept this up until last year when we experienced a family health crisis. I found I could not write at any hour, much less 5 a.m. Two years and three books in the computer, and I couldn’t write!

So I stopped and dealt with life. Sometimes you do that.

Was I less a writer than I had been the previous two years? No. I wasn’t producing stories, but I was a writer with more important things to do.

When the crisis eased, I found I still couldn’t write until my wife asked me to take it up again. I told her I just couldn’t focus enough to make things up, i.e., write fiction.

Fine, she said. Write something else. I did. Ironically, or maybe not, I turned to working on a memoir about my two years in Southeast Asia during the Viet-Nam War. That is, I went back to doing what I knew: Reporting.

The project took a year — much longer than I expected — but it’s done.

Am I back to writing fiction at 5 a.m.? Nope. Still cleaning up the memoir mess. (Doing the maps took two weeks alone. I devote at least half a day a week writing customized pitches to agents and carefully filing their rejects.)

So am I a writer or not?

Yeah, I’m a writer. Sometimes life intrudes, and you need to clean up a mess or two.

I’ll be back to writing four to six hours a day like the old days, but I’ve already decided that I won’t be doing the 5 a.m. wakeup call again. Life is too short, and I’ve found other things I can trim.

Write on.

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