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Life Without Writing

Today I stopped to ponder what my life would be without writing.

It would be very pleasant indeed.

For instance, I would not spend so much time alone in a small room. My shoulders would be less hunched. My abdominals would be stronger. I would do yoga. Or learn to walk a tightrope.

I might make a real breakfast, instead of getting up only to sit down again. My first meal wouldn't be over the keys (well, in the keys, sometimes).

I would look out the window more. Right now I keep the shades drawn. Views are too distracting. They are often better than words. I would finally cop to this.

I would talk more with my friends. I would go out for more lunches. I would be able to talk to them about the tightrope-walking, which would interest them. In the past, not so many of them have been interested.

I would read more. I wouldn't have this dreadful feeling that I should be doing something else. I wouldn't worry if a book is better than mine. I wouldn't treat it like a fortune cookie, for god's sake. I would simply read it.

I would watch tv. After the yoga. With my shoulders erect.

I wouldn't be tormented by plots that haven't happened and characters who don't exist. I would pay more attention to my family. I would pay more attention to my dogs.

My dogs would be better trained. My house would be cleaner. I might have a cushy job. My bank account would be fuller.

I would do things instead of write about them. I've always wanted to swim the English Channel. I've wondered if this is harder, and takes longer to work up to, than publishing a novel. I would find out.

My eyes might be better than they are now. Also, I would see everything I've been missing, staring at this screen. I would take fun vacations from whatever it was I was seeing too much of, the way some of my friends do. I would absorb more vitamin D from natural sources.

Of course, I might miss this dark room, a little.

And the words trying to arrange themselves improperly.

And me fighting them like Russell Crow in a Roman arena.

I might miss the sport, the blood-lust.

I might miss my unreal friends. They're even less interested in me than my real friends, but I have been so interested in them, so confounded by them and curious, so hungry after them, breakfast, lunch and dinner, it's made up for a great deal, I have to say. My characters and I would have to get a kind of divorce, I suppose. That wouldn't be pleasant.

I might miss the satisfaction of getting something right. Oh, yes. Perfectly. It does happen, sometimes. You wait and wait and wait for it to come to you, pacing back and forth on the French coast, as it were. And then it comes. Patience as a feat. Victory as pulling something from the gray, sludgy water and helping it stand.

I would miss my story. That shivering, exhausted thing. That thing that wants to give up the whole time, but I don't let it. Breathe. Pace yourself. Stroke. Now rest. Tread water. All right, that's enough. Set off again. Back you go.

I might lose all the stamina I've developed.

I might short-change my will.

I might miss something really good. Something like O Pioneers!

I don't know if the tightrope-walking would make up for this.

I could straighten my posture while I sit here.

I could get the dogs to stay while I type.

I really should get back to work.

Hand me that donut.


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Painted well

Mylene, I think you took words out of many of our mouths, and certainly lifted thoughts from our minds. Delightful post. Well-said. Now, I'm going to go get my cookie and complete the editorial I started this morning. Cheers!

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Cheers, Sharon!

Cheers, Sharon! I'm at my desk too, ready to go!

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Many thanks for this amusing piece showing that it's okay to be obsessive compulsive about writing. The rest of the world certainly doesn't regard it as sane employment. I can resonate with all of it, including having to capsize the keyboard every so often to tip out the crumbs! And writing a novel is quite enough of a tightrope! It's camel-and-needle's-eye territory a lot of the time.

Yes, I'm sure my days would indeed be pleasant without pursuing the Muse. There's nothing like that bouyant feeling you get when you've finished a piece of work and can turn justified attention on the garden and socialise with enthusiasm and think about drawing and painting and proper cooking.

Oh yes, it's wonderful for a few weeks, even months, but then life begins to fall a little flat, the colours to fade, the dissatisfaction to accrue. Then you realise that what keeps you noticing and describing, exploring the senses and pioneering new mental frontiers, is the very tool that needs to be honed for a fulfilling existence.

C'est la vie! 



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You're welcome, Rosy. And what a wonderful comment in return.

About the camel-through-the-needle's eye: A friend recently shared with me the background to the biblical reference, including the (to me) new information that "needle's eye" refers to a contemporary word for the opening that led animals into a sheep's corral. Since it was made to be low enough for sheep, a camel would indeed have to get on its knees to get through it (much like the rich man seeking to get into heaven). Your use of it in relation to writing made me smile. How many of us have been sorely humbled by our books, before we emerge on the other side?