by Paul D. Marks
The title of this piece, Writing is a Harsh Mistress, pretty much answers the question. Yes, writing interferes with family life. It interferes with daily life. The demands of my fiction definitely create friction with the reality of my life and sometimes those close to me.
|Jack Kerouac and his scroll.|
And there’s always something more to write, something else to write. A great idea for a new story or a terrific bit for that scene you’ve been stuck on.
To be honest, writing is like a black hole. It sucks you in and it’s sometimes hard to see the light outside that hole. And if I could be fed intravenously and not have to sleep I might never get up from my writing chair. I do, however, get up several times in a session to take the dogs out, walk them, play with them, etc. It’s good for them and makes them happy and it’s good for me, too, to get out of the chair. And if I was glued to the chair and the screen, Pepper, when she was younger, would come up and nudge my elbow: time for a walk, daddy. And I would always oblige. She doesn’t do that much anymore, but Buster has kind of taken over those duties. He doesn’t nudge my elbow like she did, but he’ll come and stand and glare at me with those “puppy dog” eyes, telling me it’s time to get moving. (On a side note, it always amazes me that even though dogs can’t talk they sure can communicate to us.)
|The result of Pepper getting me up to go for a walk.|
When I was working on a typewriter (remember those?) I would often wish that there could be an endless supply of paper (like Jack Kerouac writing on the “endless” scroll for On the Road) so that I wouldn’t have to change paper at the end of every page, because I’d often lose my train of thought in doing that. So when computers came out with their “endless pages” it was a miracle to me. But the downside of that is that I truly can sit here for hours and never get up, never take a break.
Often, friends and family don’t understand the driving need to write, to express ourselves, and that can cause friction. Also in the past, particularly before I had any kind of success and was hungry and desperate, I would sometimes turn down friends who wanted to get together for a movie or dinner since I wanted to write. I wanted to be successful, so I sacrificed other things to that desire. I know that in at least a couple of cases I lost those friendships because of that.
|The guitar I don't have time to play.|
|One of my Beatles collectibles.|
But I am very lucky to have Amy, my wife, who both understands my need to write and also helps me with it. She’s a damn good editor. And she’s pretty tolerant of my writing mistress. Which is not to say there aren’t times when she wants me to quit for the day or do something else on a particular day. But in the big picture she’s very understanding.
And Happy Belated Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you had a good one!
And now for the usual BSP:
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