Saturday, May 16, 2009

Writing for Love

One of my first serious writing projects in my younger years was a story called "Fighting for Love" and like most early High School writing projects, it was... well, let's just say that it doesn't see the light of day very often. The whole thing was filled with clich├ęs and other such atrocities, but if nothing else it had passion and enthusiasm. I wasn't afraid to write, I just did because it was fun, because I loved it. It is for that reason that I have kept it around, as a reminder that writing doesn't have to be hard. And even as horrible as it is, it is a memento of something much bigger.

As we grow older we find that there are many ways to love. We leave school behind and go to work so that we can do the things we love, so we can feed and clothe the ones we love, and so that we can afford the very pleasure of love. Sometimes on that journey of giving and taking, of mending and breaking, we get so tangled up that we forget how our journey really began and we forget what we're fighting for.

During this last month, my extended leave from my job, I was able to put things back into perspective. I have given so much of myself over the past year and it left me drained. I didn't have the energy to love much of anything. I wanted to write, but I was so exhausted... I was moody and grumpy, and many evenings my mind would turn to tasks left unfinished at work and projects always looming ahead. Writing seemed, at times, like just another chore that had to be done.

I stopped going out with my family on a lot of small adventures, opting instead to stay at home in the quiet and solitude of an empty house; an activity reminiscent of my troubled youth. That too took its toll.

During this break I have been able to readjust my perspective and I am so thankful for the many things in my life that I have accomplished and for my family for standing by me. My wife and my children are worth fighting for, and so too is my writing. It can be hard to see when there is no army looming in the dark beyond, but sometimes there are wars to be waged on another front. I cannot afford to allow my job to demand so much from me when it does not allow me to enjoy the life I have.

I write because I love writing. I would like to think that I am good at it, but I am smart enough to know that I can always get better. The trick is putting in the time to discover what does and does not work. And to do that, you must make sure that you are in the right frame of mind in order to get the most from your writing time.

Reflection is a wonderful thing. Just as I am writing this post, it occured to me that this is not the first time that I have felt extremely overloaded and at the breaking point. When I was in the military up in Alaska, there was a stretch of time when I worked full time, went to school full time, took care of the kids when Tara worked her part time job in the evenings, and somehow fit in a full time gaming schedule on the computer. I didn't try to write much during those years. But the primary difference I think is that we seized the opportunities to get out into nature and go camping and pan for gold with the kids. Last summer I felt trapped, often working 12-13 days in a row with an average 16 hour day and some at 19 or 20. Sure, I made a decent amount of overtime, but I also paid way more in taxes. With a rule against taking vacation, I felt as if there was no escape, and I often asked myself why I bothered...

My answer? I was fighting for love... to support the ones I love, to afford the pleasure of love, but forsaking the ability to do the things I love. And coincidentally, that was the reason I joined the military so many years ago. The good news is that life is about progression, if we choose it to be. So I will focus on writing, because that is what I love to do, and I will not forget where it all started, with both my writing and my family.


Hugh McMillan said...

Sounds sensible. In a way, I think, writing has saved my life (maybe that's too melodramatic- but it has been a great fulfillment and joy to me when other parts of my life have threatened to fall apart). Your family and your writing. Sounds like a good credo.

Jena Isle said...

That's quite romantic Brady, and admirable. You have all the inspiration you need from your family. Cheers.

Joanne Olivieri said...

I think we've all experienced the burnout at times. The positive here is that you have risen above it all and have found the peace and serenity with your family. That's all the matters. Beautiful post.

Webbielady said...

That's very inspirational. I learned as I read. This post is a beautiful reminder to stay focus: on what we really fought for from the very beginning and reassess how we are doing at present. As in your case, your family and your writing.

Unknown said...

@shug Writing is definitely something worth living for. How else can you magically transport other people into any world your imagination can create? Family too can be the glue that holds things together when all else is threatening to fall apart.

@Jena Yes, so true, I don't know what I would do without them!

@Poetic Shutterbug Yes, I am so glad I took the break. Work is still a downer but I am able to breathe easy and know that the stress has lifted and I can try to take is all in stride once more. I think that shows in just how much writing I've been able to accomplish.

@Webbielady Sometimes it can be easy to loose track of ourselves with the world wizzing by. It is important to find your anchor, whether it is writing, or family, both, or something else entirely. Thanks for stopping in. :)