This week has been awesome, like living underwater in a pineapple awesome. I’ve pretended to be a grown up, pretended to be a successful author working for himself while living in a beach side hut, I’ve pretended to be skinny and rich and I’ve pretended to be a film/TV writer. All in all this week where I can pretend has been great fun. Today I go home to the real world; but I plan to take the “pretend” home with me.
A few years ago I attempted to under take The Artists Way, a creative recovery programme by American writer Julia Cameron. There were several techniques she employed to make the journey successful, one of which is to pretend and to play.
When you’re a grown up, pretending and playing is sort of frowned on unless you have kids. I don’t really play anywhere near enough. Whenever I think of it, I almost always think “there are better ways to spend your time, you’re not a kid anymore.”
It’s sort of sad, that as adults we stuff down our imagination and our free-reign to play into a compartment somewhere. Arts and crafts seem to be acceptable, but pretending you’re a cowboy and only calling people “Pardner” for the day usually ends with strange looks and possibly a trip to a nice warm padded cell with a cosy straight jacket.
A week or so ago I started to sketch again. The sketches aren’t fantastic, not something you’d see hanging anywhere but probably my mothers fridge, but it was fun and it was a release and I loved it.
This week I lived a mental game of fun, no stress, no worries about money or jobs or anything else. I just “was”. I walked the dog and ate food and wrote and watched TV. I don’t remember the last time I had a zero stress week. It was fun.
But now that I’m going home, I find myself at a loss. I don’t know how to maintain this sense of fantasy and fun in my real world. I’ve got responsibilities. I need to find a job, I need to pay my bills. I need to make sure I have clothes on my back and I frankly need to put aside the “fun” and concentrate on the “job” of finding a job.
Even though I don’t get paid for it – yet – writing is work for me. I take it very seriously, and while I write stories I find fun, I also find writing them slightly stressful, kind of like getting dressed for a first date. Wondering whether or not he’ll like me – or my words – when they meet.
I read a blog post yesterday, an interview with Kate Forsyth about her latest book. It tells a story about The Brothers Grimm and the woman who gave them most of the fairy tales they published. As I was reading the blog I could hear Kate’s enthusiasm for the story. Given she’s spent a year or more writing the story it was impressive and exciting to “hear” the excitement she still maintains for the story.
I need to figure out a way to maintain the excitement for my own work. Actually, I think I need to figure out ways to maintain the excitement for not only my work but my life.
One thing I noticed in the post was a question. It began with “You’re working on your Doctorate”
All I could think was “are you kidding me? How does she have time to do that, I don’t have time most days to brush my hair!”
And I thought about it. Kate is a brilliant writer. She writes on average a full length novel a year. She’s also raising children. If Kate can find the time to study for a Doctorate, and raise kids, and write a novel a minute what exactly am I doing with my time that prevents me finishing a short story? What exactly am I doing with my time at all?
I enrolled a couple of years ago into a University degree I didn’t want to do. It was a business degree and frankly I couldn’t have cared less. I wanted to do one on Ancient and Medieval history, but my then boss told me that was stupid idea and I should do the one he decided on. So I enrolled. And I dropped out because “I did not have any time to do it properly”.
You see at the time I was wanting to spend more time writing. I didn’t. I was wanting to spend more time exercising. I didn’t. I was wanting to join a group or meet new people. I didn’t. I was wanting is really where all of those sentence ended.
I want. It’s a motto I’ve carried for years. I don’t do. I want. I don’t need. I want.
Recently I’ve been complaining about not being able to get an interview because I don’t have a degree and I’ve been thinking “if only I had the time.”
I’m not sure where I get the impression that other people have more time in life than I do, but they sure as hell make better use of it. I’m getting a bit tired of saying “oh I didn’t have time today, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
So I’ve decided that when I go home tonight I’m going to just be. I’m not going to worry about time, or writing or pretending. Tomorrow and for the rest of the following week I’m going to record what I do and how much time I do it for. Internet, TV Watching, Drinking Coffee. At the moment I’m not really doing anything that I can think of.
Once I’ve analysed where I’m spending my time, I’m going to look at ways to better utilise it. I’m tired of making excuses. That’s something that has really come to the front of my mind this week.
I am where I am today, because of the excuses I made yesterday. If I want tomorrow to be better or to be different, then I need to start ditching the excuses and making better choices today. It’s just that simple.
Who knows, 15 years or so from now I may well have 15 novels published and be working on my own Doctorate. I may not be. I may be running a coffee shop in a beachside town and living in a treehouse. Who knows? What I do know though, without a doubt, is this. “If I spend the next 15 years or so making the same tired choices and excuses I’ll be sitting at my parents house, probably unemployed again and probably broke and hoarse of voice after yelling at Citibank Customer Service.
I guess the point to this post is that for all intents and purposes sometimes it takes just a small thing to catch your eye, to force you to turn your attention to yourself. If this experiment in time use works out the way I think it will, I’ll need to send Kate a bunch of flowers. It was her class on Creative Writing that re-inspired the novelist in me a couple of years ago and led to where I am now, with a series of half started novels on my computer. I hadn’t written a word in nearly 7 years when I walked into that course that night.
Now, it’s a blog promoting her new novel that has caught my eye, yet again, making me look at reality. Unless Kate has figured out a way to manipulate time to give herself an extra twenty hours a day, then I can pretty guess I’m about to find out just how much time I waste in the next week. And just how much time I have to dedicate to all sorts of things.
For those wondering, the novel mentioned in the blog post is: