On Not Feeling Guilty

Here's what's going on at my house while I write. I'm in a good writing place -- a place that doesn't like interruptions even to move firewood. I can easily look up and an hour has passed, two. And I do take breaks. But I'm conserving energy now, even physical energy -- it's all going into the story at this point.

I am eating a lot of eggs. (I know.)

I have to make myself get out of the house now. I don't want to. I don't want to walk or move firewood or even read the news (this is big). I am no longer tempted by distractions, in this white-heat place, and I'm trying to ride this heatwave for as long as I can, even though it also feels somewhat destructive -- do you know what I mean?

This always worries me some, so I make myself dash to the store for milk, stopping in the aisle to scribble a new story-thought. I check on the guys as they contemplate where-in-the-world to put this last bit of firewood and I say out loud my latest story thread (see their excitement?). I meet with my staff at the end of the driveway and beg off after a few precious minutes, "to keep working." I make myself take a shower. I make myself go to bed.

When I'm writing like this, I get very still for very long periods of time. I work long hours, stretching into the night. I don't go to dinner with my Monday night dinner friends. I don't go sit meditation. I don't worry about feeding anyone.

And you know what? After thirty years of apologizing for how I work and who I am, I am done with all that.

I don't make excuses. I don't apologize.

I know you know what I'm talking about.

After what feels like a lifetime of apology, I finally live with people who don't require excuses or apologies. Likewise, I don't demand reasons, apologies or justifications from them. Ours is a peaceful, gentle household -- a good place to live, love, and work.

I don't make apologies or excuses to myself, either. I have stopped feeling guilty for not participating in the life all around me while I work in a white heat to finish this novel, even if I look, for a while, like something the cat dragged in. Even if I can hardly make conversation. Even if I don't answer the phone and nap in the middle of the day, and let one more day go by that I haven't answered a mountain of email or paid bills. It will get done.

I understand the way I work, finally, and I accept it. I've tried changing it, I've tried beating myself up over it, I've tried all the books and all the therapy and all the well-meaning suggestions of friends and fellow writers. I have wasted time on trying to be what I think I'm supposed to be instead of honoring what and who I am and how I work. I've tried guilt -- the gift that keeps on giving. I have given it back.

Writing works like this for me. It's easier to accept how I work and work with it, than try to make it be something it's not. I have friends in my life who don't require a check-in or a reason for my silence. I extend to them the same respect and courtesy. And I work. Long and hard. I have a headache. I stop. I eat an egg. I sleep. I get up and work again.

It's trench-time. I am not fully present, except to my story. I am depending on my family for steadfast support, protein sustenance, and kind understanding. Also a dollop of naked enthusiasm. I know I have these things.

Thank you, family.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Howdy. Moderating comments to prevent spam. I'm sure you're not that. Thanks for your thoughts! Write on, warrior on. Make art.