Friday, June 21, 2013

What Defines Your Life? You Choose.

“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?


Maren O. Mitchell said...

Your time and energy allocations sound familar. I, too, like to do many things and the only way to get any writing done is to set aside time for that alone. It can be tough! Good luck!

DJan said...

Very well said, and I agree that we must make choices. Nobody can do it all, and if we try, we end up doing nothing. I am defined by my days, which are no longer full like yours are, but once upon a time they were. I am very jealous of my time so that doesn't happen to me again. Very thoughtful post.

Glenda Beall said...

Thank you, DJan, for your comment. It seems when I get it all under control, I am much happier, but soon the spiral begins and I am overwhelmed with things that don't make me so happy.
I began today with letting go - I am not worrying about my brother now. He said he is doing well, and I believe him. He is far better in all ways than he was when I visited some weeks ago. I also let go of some other things today. Now on to my writing!

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Thanks for the work you're doing for Netwest. You are a mentor to many writers and we sure appreciate your support. You're doing your part to make the writing community much better. Thanks!
I sure hope your brother and his wife get better.

Glenda Beall said...

Brenda Kay and Maren, thank you for your comments. I am making headway in letting go. Today I wrote a short story and revised some essays I plan to submit. I am feeling back in the groove again. Thanks for your compliments, Brenda Kay. It is always nice to be appreciated for our efforts. I like your page on

Anonymous said...

You have to prioritize. Before I became a full time writer, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. When I developed an interest in writing, people said, "Don't quit your day job." It was hard to find time to write when I wasn't working.

When I got married, my husband Bill encouraged me to quit my job. He was also disabled and assured me that between his and my social security benefits, we could make ends meet without me having to work. Since I wanted to write full time, I jumped at the chance to do so.

However, I still had plenty of other obligations. After the wedding, I had to send a multitude of thank you letters to those who sent or brought gifts or money. Bill hired a friend to put up a Website for me, and I was busy putting together material for that. He also bought me a new computer, and since it was a PC, and I'd been using a Mac, I had to learn how to use the new computer and transfer my files from the old to the new system.

Three months later when things finally settled down, Bill suffered his first stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side, and when I wasn't traipsing back and forth to the nursing home while he was recovering, I was on the phone to doctors and other professionals in an attempt to manage his care and filling out paperwork for a loan to buy a different house that could more easily be made wheelchair accessible.

When he was discharged from the nursing home eight months later, I became a full time family caregiver. This meant dressing him, helping him go to the bathroom, giving him his medications, not to mention preparing meals, and doing laundry and other chores.

To make a long story short, he's gone now, and I have plenty of time on my hands, but I still have to prioritize. I'm still asked if I play my guitar and sing at the nursing home, but I always say I don't have time. I do have time to work on my memoir, write an occasional poem or story, update my blog and Website, send material to publications, and do various chores associated with positions I hold in various writers' organizations to which I belong. At the end of the day, I have time to stretch out in my husband's recliner and read a good book written by someone else who is probably scrambling to find time to write.

Living Above the Frost Line said...

Glenda, Thanks for all you do for our writers here in our mountains. I understand what you are saying. It's the story of my life. I hope you will now save time for your own writing.

Glenda Beall said...

I plan to do that, Nancy, as soon as someone takes on the responsibility of Netwest.

I hope that will be very soon!