The Write Life

The one thing I’ve done consistently throughout my life is write.  It has always been a source of pleasure as well as giving me a sense of accomplishment greater than anything else I’ve done.  There are formulas you can follow that will  insure you some measure of financial success as a writer, but most successful writers don’t follow any one else’s rules.  Creativity can be courted, pursued, even seduced but it cannot be lashed to a wagon to  transport you reliably through your journey in life.  Neither can it be reduced to a set of calculations that when worked correctly give you a great novel.  Writing is art, and like any art form, it is capricious, elusive, and maddening.

I’ve gone through orientation to a new job the past two weeks.  Starting today, I am supposed to be putting in another five days of learning how to do it correctly.  As any of you who have read my blog posts know, my life is complicated to say the least.  Constant vigilance is required to make sure my son with Ataxia-Telangiectasia (www.atcp.org) stays healthy, and even then we cannot completely protect his lungs.  We have to constantly weigh quality of life against quantity of life, and I honestly don’t know how to work that out to ensure his longevity.  He’s 15-years-old.  Can you imagine telling a young man of that age, “Honey, I’m sorry but if you want to live as long as possible, you have to stop eating and drinking.  Oh, and even then I can’t guarantee how many extra days or weeks that will give you before this condition you have takes your life.”  Of course you could find other ways to put it, and I’ll admit to wanting to do that at times, but how can I selfishly put my wish to have him here with me above his desire to be as “normal” as possible?  He gets the most time to “hang-out” with his friends at lunch.  Yes, he could sit there with his pals and not eat, but he likes food and sharing that with others is basic to most human lives.  Even his pulmonologist doesn’t suggest taking that away from him.

My husband is heroic in taking over for me when I’m at work, but he has limits (as we all do).  I find it a cruel irony that health insurance would cover having a nurse come in to care for our son, but won’t pay me (a licensed RN, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing) to do the same thing.  I cannot find a nursing job that fits with my son’s hours so that I can work enough to provide health insurance for our family, and take care of him as well.  All of this is secondary to the fact that I’d rather be writing.  I wonder how many authors would have been able to succeed financially without a working spouse (regardless of gender) or the good fortune to live in a country that provides health insurance to its’ citizens as a basic human right?

I wish that our President had skipped the “Obama-care” and gone right to a single payer system.  I appreciate the benefits he’s been able to add, but having a single payer system would eliminate many of the issues that are coming up now, like employers cutting hours or adding surcharges to avoid paying for their employees to have health insurance.  I don’t know what the answer is in our situation.  All I know is that I can’t provide the best care to others when I’m constantly worrying about my husband and children the whole time I’m at work.  Especially since I’d really rather be writing.  I would love to hear how other writer’s and/or parents of “special children” have been able to work this out.

Namaste’.

 

Writing as a profession

I’ve been away from blogging and writing for weeks now, and it has had a definite impact on my overall view of myself and my life.  Writing has always been important to me, as it is for many of us.  It is stated in countless books about writing that for some, if not all authors, the act of writing is in part a desire to be understood.  One of the ways our inner editor negatively impacts our lives as writers is when people close to us misinterpret or personalize aspects of our writing in ways we didn’t intend (published authors know the pain of this better than anyone).  Critics can be harsh and unrelenting, even for just a few words written in a status update on Facebook or Twitter.  This can silence you before you even begin to explore the depths of your creative soul.  No, your life doesn’t have to be tragic to grant you access to the world of publication.  Tragedy that becomes a success is a story line people identify with and dream of, especially right now with the horrific downturn in the economy and its impact on the 99% of us who are not wealthy.  It is hard not to feel cynical in times like these about “following your bliss.”  Especially when you have children who need food, a roof over their heads, and clothes.

Recently, and for the first time in my life, I’ve experienced what it’s like to not have dental insurance.  It’s sobering and the idea of life without health insurance begins to take on nightmare dimensions.  Positive thinking, banishing worry, and letting go of attachment to outcomes is very difficult when you have a family in which almost every member has a pre-existing condition that would make buying health insurance privately impossible.  Fair or unfair, when both members of a marriage are unemployed either spouse can feel a sense of betrayal, especially if there is little or no prospect of re-employment.  Trying to turn towards the positive, the optimistic view, in times of nation-wide, even world-wide depression, takes an immense effort and for some (like me) even medication.  Writing as a profession takes incredible discipline and talent.  It helps if the writer has a partner with a conventional job that provides basic insurance for health and dental care. (vision care is another plus)  Again, stories (like J.K. Rowling‘s) of authors who overcome incredible odds and hardships can help prop us up for a time, but measured against the totality of human suffering and depravation in our world today they become more like tales from the lottery or urban legends than they do realities that can be emulated or aspired to.  “True” writers don’t do so for money anyway.  Such pecuniary goals are laughable in the upper circles of creative nobility.

There are no easy answers.  Hope is a delicate flower that needs constant care if it is to blossom and grow.  Writing can nourish hope, but choosing to do so in a public way (especially if you feel compelled to be true to yourself) can invite the most soul crushing kind of criticism.  May your spiritual practice, whatever it might be, sustain you in these times that challenge even those with the hardiest dispositions.  To those who share my dream of a writer’s life (or any of the creative arts), hold fast to your aspirations.  May your muse be ever near, and support be available to you in abundance.  Namaste’.