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 clichés 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.