Here I am. It is five o’clock in the afternoon. In little over an hour I will need to leave my apartment and pick up my son from day care. Depending on his mood, we will most likely play there for about thirty minutes, then we will head home. He’ll be excited to see his mother and want to cuddle with her. Then, one of us will cook dinner and the other will keep him company. Around nine thirty, he will start to get sleepy. She’ll handle the bed prep, because as he gets sleepy and fussy his desire for mommy increases. In return, I’ll wash the dishes and get the kitchen clean.
We have gone through a variation of this play many, many times by know. It is a good dance, and even though we both stumble with it every now and then, we are getting good at handling our own parts.
The problem is never with this dance. It is with finding the time to handle all those other things the dance precludes.
I love my family. Why belabor that point? I love them and they complete my world. However, doing them the service they deserve does make it difficult to give my full attention over to the world in which I get to be creative.
I don’t want to call my writing just a hobby. It feels like more than that. Sure, my ukulele strumming is a hobby. That soothes me and adds fun to my days. I’d love to advance in skill to the point where I can entertain a few crowds and help teach and share the love for ukulele. But, even with that enthusiasm, it feels like a hobby.
Writing, it is more than that to me. It feels like a calling. When I get the words going and feel that click inside my brain that signals the start of an onslaught of words, it feels natural. And right. It feels like I am doing one of the things I am meant to be doing. Filling up the present with words is part of who I am, even if saying it like that makes me think I should spend more time searching for a suitable analogy.
And that is the problem. Writing, creativity, feels like such an essential part of who I am, but it is also an aspect where I feel I have the least amount of time to give attention to. As much as I love the me that gets to write, it feels like that is also the least practical use of my time right now. I bump against that feeling constantly.
Writing does not clean the kitchen. Writing does not entertain my child. Writing does not help my wife with her stress. Writing does not keep my birds happy. Writing does not pay our bills.
These are some of my practical concerns. And when I write, I nod need to push them aside so I can focus on whatever secret channel it is that connects me to the words that are hidden inside so that they can flow out of me and into the world.
But sometimes that gets hard. Guilt and self-doubt are powerful forces. They can lock me up and keep me from even trying.
Why should I write when there are so many more uses for the little time I have? Sitting at more computer is ignoring all the other roles I need to play. I can’t be a good husband and good father if I spend my time chasing a fruitless dream to be a good writer. Is that meaningless pursuit more important than my family?
Why should I write when in the right now, it doesn’t amount to anything? I am a small, tiny voice whispering into an ocean of words. I will never be noticed. I can barely get people I know to read my creations and I dare expect strangers to not only look at these words, but to really take notice?
Those are the voices that scare me. They scare me because there is truth in them. Hopefully not the whole truth, but enough of the truth so that the words deliver an effective sting.
And sometimes those voices win. They win, not when I have to make difficult choices and my writing has too be put on hold. They win when there is an opportunity to write but I let the chance pass me by because the attempt seems pointless.
There is no need for me to disguise my hope that one day my words will turn into something greater than mere type. I dare to dream that my words can help me build a better, future for me and my family. There are many different forms this better future can take, and very few of them are of mass appeal and tv control, just to say that my dreams are not necessarily of the hardest to achieve variety. I do wish that at some point my words turn into my main form of paying bills. There I said it.
But, in order for that to happen I need to continue to hone my skills. I need to continue to devote time to my craft. I need to get better. Not only in writing, but in dealing with the world outside of my writing. I need to take my opportunities. I need to find my chances to write. I need to quit letting the excuses that give me pause and doubt win. I have to keep fighting those voices away.
I need to do better.
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