“What defines your life? Your days? What is your achievement? Whether it's running or writing or some other feat, own it. Don't make excuses for what you choose not to do. Enjoy to the fullest those things you choose to do.”
--- Funds for Writers Newsletter by C. Hope Clark, author of Lowcountry Bribe.
Hope Clark hit me square between the eyes today with the above lines. I complain that I don't have time to write a book or complete my next poetry collection, but I have time to answer all the e-mail I get on three different addresses, to read blogs and read magazines, and study writing in all forms.
I have time to talk for an hour on the phone with my sister or friends, and I have time to research various items of interest on the Internet. I find the time to write posts for two personal blogs and to promote all my writer friends, but I just can’t find time to revise and organize those poems or focus on my book long enough to write the next chapter.
I can spend too long on Facebook, which is probably my biggest waste of time, and I don’t even enjoy it. In fact the Internet is an addiction for me. I sometimes dread checking my e-mail because that seems to be the jumping off point where I lose myself. Instantly my best-laid plans fly into cyberspace and I, the junkie, am hooked on what is out there.
I have days, oh yes, days when I write and stick to my goals. I have about two hundred personal essays or memoir pieces written and stored in a file. Many of them could be published if only I would submit them. I ask myself now, as Hope says, what is defining my life?
I am a caregiver. That is part of my DNA. Recently, since my brother has been sick, I have been overly concerned about his care. I live five hours drive from him. There is little I can physically do for him. But I get a call from him and I hear his issues and wonder if anyone there is aware of what he needs. Can I be of help in some way? I can spend hours on the phone with doctors’ offices, social services or others who might have answers for helping a sick man and his wife who has dementia.
I am presently holding the leadership role in our writing organization until a more permanent person is found. I did this already for two years when my husband was sick with cancer. Part of who I am is doing my best in any job, volunteer or paid position. So I try to promote our writers and write articles and reviews while I help new members adjust to our tried and true methods of running the group.
I keep the lines of communication open between our region and the director of the state writers’ network. Meanwhile, I have to hear complaints, squelch gossipy misinformation, and help out any volunteer who has a crisis. Thank God for the close friends who listen and console me when others find fault.
Then, I do my own work of teaching and running my writing studio. I bring in writers and poets who teach various types of classes for the local literary community. Advertising and collecting fees, keeping the grounds and the building in adequate shape, all take much time and energy. I also mentor students, especially those who have talent and ability to one day publish their writing.
As Hope says, we all have the same 24 hours in each day. We make the decision as to what we do in that time.
I think I have found from writing this post what is defining my life. Now I have to make some changes if I expect to be a writer. I have to be cold hearted about it and stop giving away my time when I should be using it for my passion - writing.
What about you? What is defining your life?