So today’s prompt from the DIY MFA Book Club is: tell a story about a time when you had to honour your reality.
The discussion ahead of this prompt said, in part, “Has there ever been a moment when writing felt completely incompatible with your real life–when it felt like there was just no way you could make the two exist together?” It goes on to talk about being flexible and finding ways to integrate the shifting balance between writing and life.
What came to my mind immediately was something I touched upon in my last post. There was a period, from when my daughter was born in early 1999 to shortly after my son started kindergarten (about six years later), when I wrote almost nothing. In fairness, I was a little busy, but there was more to it than that.
Because the period of not-writing (or not writing very seriously) was longer than that. I spent my twenties and the first part of my thirties figuring out other things. I was raised in a strictly Catholic family and it took me a while get past that. I was preoccupied with finding a different path. (I’m a vegetarian Buddhist lesbian now, so clearly the time was well spent.)
But! That time spent figuring out my spiritual leanings, ethical standards, and sexuality didn’t just take time away from writing (although it did). It was not as if the figuring out was easy, linear, quick, or (at times) all that obvious even to me.
Now, in retrospect, I see that period of not-writing as a symptom of something else. Of being wary of who I was or might be and being reluctant to explore anything (through my writing) that would prematurely push me towards seeing myself more clearly.
Obviously, I’m writing now, more seriously than ever. And I’m happy for the experiences during the not-writing time that have made me a better writer. But I think I made things more difficult for myself by avoiding writing. That perhaps I would have figured things out more quickly if I had found a way to write through my own uncertainties.
Anyway. That’s gone a bit far afield from the prompt, so I’ll stop now.