Write for your life

I am not happy with my life right now. I have no job, no money, I’m living at home, and the one shining light in my life lives two hours away in Toledo. But I have writing and that’s what’s keeping me going. I write to work out my frustrations and to deal with my problems. The first thing I did when I was stuck in Gurnee– tired, angry, confused,–was to blog. I felt the pressure rush through my fingers and after I was done writing, I felt much better. But what if I couldn’t write?

I’ve always wondered about athletes who see their lifelong dreams disappear in one instant with an injury or something else out of their control. What do you do with yourself when everything you’ve trained for is gone? How do you deal with life when your outlet for expression is gone? I always looked on these situations with sadness and a certain amount of relief because writing is different. If I had a major injury, I could still write. If I went blind, or deaf, or was paralyzed I could still write. Lee Goldberg finished one of his last novels with two broken arms for crying out loud. But lately I’ve come to realize just how lucky I am.

My Friend the Dancer (MFTD) is struggling with this right now. She has trained for most of her life to be a dancer and left a couple of years ago to pursue her dream professionally in New York City. But after an injury, she left the city to recover, with plans to return soon after. Now she’s beginning to think about the realities of that. Re-entry into her training has been hard. Dance is brutal on the body. This has brought up thoughts about what she would do if she couldn’t dance. Everything else she considers is a consolation prize to her true dream. I don’t want to go too much into MFTD’s story, this blog is for me to rip my own wounds open, not those of others, but she said something to me the other night that brought it all home to me.

She said, “What would you do if tomorrow someone told you you couldn’t write?”

I’d have nothing. I’d have no outlet, no dream, no desire. I’d be an every day Joe. Nothing special. I’m not sure I could handle that.

7 thoughts on “Write for your life

  1. You’ve mentioned that you go to church, so I’m guessing you view writing as a gift, a blessing, a vocation, something God wants you to use. Right?Years ago I was convinced that my vocation was in military law enforcement. I started down this path in college only to get bounced out of ROTC because of debilitating shinsplints. A year later, I blew my knees out running. There went law enforcement, too.For several years I walked around as an everyday Jane, and it was hard to handle. Eventually I got to the point where my day job was driving me crazy, and I quit and started freelancing. A hell of a lot fell into place, way too much for me to have done it on my own, and that’s how I know I’m meant to be here… at least for now.I don’t mean to sound Pollyanna-ish, or to make it all sound so simple, because it isn’t – it’s brutal, and it can take a long time to find your way. Faith is what gets you through.Stephen, I’m so sorry for your grandmother. I can’t imagine, either.

  2. Interesting question. If someone told me I could no longer write, I’d be missing something… I really would, there’d be a void… but as I’ve always said, I’d be happy as a teacher too, it’s just not… the dream.

  3. Just finished Charlie Huston’s CAUGHT STEALING, where the protagonist is an athlete robbed of his prime, which ties in very nicely with the very noir goings-on in the novel.It’s interesting to talk with people in that situation. On one hand, they often had personal achievements way beyond most people, but are open to the “stuck in the past” attack.

  4. If I couldn’t write, I’d turn back to music. If I couldn’t do that, I’d get back into programming computer games.If my ability to create art in any form was completely removed, I’d do what everyone else does: have kids, and turn them into the best damn finger painters in the world.

  5. I’ve known this piano player since he graduated from Duke five years ago. He’s one of the finest stride piano players I’ve ever heard. He told me last week that he has testicular cancer and the treatment his doctor suggest has a side effect – it numbs the nerves in his fingers. This is a young man who has never had any idea of doing anything other than play piano.What could I do? I bought him a drink.

  6. I came to writing late. By that time I had an education, a teaching career/job, and two hobbies: painting and garden design. Nothing can take the place of writing for me. I’m incredibly grateful that I found it. And, yes, I’d write with two broken arms.

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