Sunday, June 7, 2015

When Writing and Life Come Into Conflict

Once upon a time, I would have told you that there was no such thing as writer’s block. I would have clarified that I knew it existed, but that it never caused me any troubles.

That changed the same day my wife passed away. After over twenty years as the center of my universe my wife’s health finally failed her completely and I was left alone.  I learned very quickly that writer’s block is not only real, but that it can be crippling. Young and cocky doesn’t hold up to devastated and grief stricken. It’s just that simple.

Know what I did? I got over it. Know how? I started writing about it. The results are still where they’ve been since day one. You can find them here if you are interested.

Life (and death) can most decidedly get in the way of your writing. A couple of years back I took in a roommate. I shouldn’t have. I didn’t need one to pay my bills, but I was trying to help out a family member. Listen, common sense told me to say “no” when he asked. (Actually, he had a friend of his ask. That way it came across as less of a request and more of a suggestion. Foolishly, I let myself get played. I realize that now. Also actually, every member of my family suggested I not take him in, but fool that I am I ignored them.) Long story short: before all was said and done I had two family members living with me. I had the stress of two people who do not like each other much living under my roof, and I had the added financial stress of paying far more than I should have for the privilege. My first unintentional roommate was told to leave after starting several screaming matches over the holidays (Remember how I told you my wife passed away? Did I mention that was two days before Christmas? Did I mention that I occasionally have trouble finding my holiday cheer? Yeah. The little darling killed that for me this last year.). I gave him four weeks to vacate the premises. A little over six weeks later I locked the door on him as he flipped me off to show how much he appreciated my help.

Darnedest thing. My writing output died a violent death while my family was living with me. Oh, I still got work done, but not as much as I should have by any stretch and most assuredly not the level of writing I’ve been doing for years.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned moving to New England. I moved alone. No roommates. I hauled most of my personal belongings down two flights of stairs without much help. I had a couple of good friends who assisted with the truly heavy stuff and more friends who gave assistance with loading the truck and still more friends who helped with Unloading the truck.

I’m not as young as I used to be and I can still feel every stair that I took up and down the multiple flights in order to relocate. There are and were a lot of stairs. I’m readjusting to a very different lifestyle and pattern and you know what?

My writing speed has gone up substantially.

Let me put this as simply as I can: Life will do everything it can to stop you from accomplishing your goals. It always has, it always will. That’s not always a bad thing, either. Some of the distractions are wonderfully necessary. Going on vacation? That’s life. Having a child? Probably exhausting, but also life. Getting married and spending time with your beloved? Oh yes, what a wonderful part of life.

It’s about time management to one extent. Writing is my career. At one point I was working a fulltime retail gig, working on three separate major writing gigs and taking care of my dying wife every day. I mean, three novels in one year, a few short stories and a novella, and all of the other stuff. I’m really very good with time management.

Stress is a different thing. Stress will eat you if you let it.

It damned near ate me. I did what I had to.

I moved.

I’d been thinking of it for years, I’ve loved New England since the first time I set foot on the ground here. It’s June as I write this and my hands are cold and if I were to actively use my brain I’d probably turn on the heating. (I’m stubborn. Sweatpants, a robe and a nice cup of hit tea will do, thanks just the same.) and believe me, that doesn’t happen much in Georgia in June.

I moved. Not only because I needed to a change of scenery, but because I knew that one way or another I would be bogged down in my family drama for a long time to come if I did not move. I moved because it’s my life and my career and because my family drama team players are old enough to take care of themselves, but if I didn’t leave, they’d have come back to me again and I might have let them back in.

Know yourself.

Don’t be your own worst enemy.

Life will get in the way, but only if you let it. There are exceptions. A death in the family is going to cause troubles. A dramatic family member trying to drag you into their latest dilemmas will only drag you down if you let them.

Call this a public service announcement if you want to but please, pay attention: Unless you have children or a spouse (They are exceptions, because they ARE your life, and they SHOULD BE) it’s your life. Live it. Own it. Rule it. Change it as you must. I did. I feel better for it already and it’s only been a few weeks.

I’m writing again.

My God, what a lovely feeling.


  1. Congrats on the move and getting your life back :)

  2. Great post. Yay for writing, as therapy and medicine, as outlet and inlet, as research and introspection!!!

    1. I tend to find that writing is the best psychotherapy. :)