There comes a time in each writer’s life when they have to face the consequences of their decision of becoming a writer. Not that many of us have a lot of say in that decision. It seems to have been made for us, the way it often feels. But what I am talking about are the real, dire consequences of saying ‘I am a writer’. Not just to yourself or to your mum/husband/best friend but to other people. People out there who will look at you as if you are either crazy or lazy and then will probably ask you about your published work, or what kind of stuff you write, which is not that bad, or maybe, and that happens the most often, they will just never mention it, as if you told them something very embarrassing which is best never to be discussed again.
The reason I’ve brought this up is because I am almost done with my novel. I can see the light, I am relieved that I finally have a completed structure, so clear in my mind that I wonder how on earth I ever wrote without one. I am a few thousands words away from the end. I have left so much unsaid that it is comforting me, knowing that I will still have things to write about once this is over. And yet I have said everything I wanted to say. For now.
I spend two-three hours a day writing. I used to count words but I don’t anymore. When I glance at the total word count I usually see that I have written at least fifteen hundred words in one sitting. Some days I have to go out and do other things like work but on those days I am impossible. If you have seen me on a day like that, you probably know not to approach me. That’s the consequence I am talking about.
On the days when I am stuck, I squeeze out a few hundred words onto the page, no matter how snarky my internal editor’s comments. Then I wander around the house, trying to tidy up and picking fights with my family. I have a three-hour window of opportunity when my husband takes the baby out and so when I miss my chance to get a lot down because of being stuck, I am not easy to live with.
I used to write when I got everything else done, after work, after tidying and cleaning, food shopping and cooking. Now I do the opposite. Everything waits until I’m done. Then the kids come home from school and I realise that I have no idea what to feed them. That’s another consequence. (Don’t worry, they get very nice fresh meals).
I have also stopped chasing other people’s dreams. In yoga, there is a commandment of non-stealing. Like a good yogi, I have stopped stealing the dreams and opportunities that others could have, and instead I focus on my own. I’m a writer – so I write.