by Linda Escalera Price
You haven’t seen me for a while. In fact, my blogmates haven’t seen me for a while.
There’s a good reason. Which turned into a lousy reason. And the lousy reason lead to a downright pathetic reason.
If you recall – or if you go dig in the archives – last November, I set some goals for 2013. I started the year out strong. Working toward those goals – even achieving some of them. I was writing every day. Checking out theatres, festival and contests. Submitting plays to places that seemed to fit. Working on revisions to “completed” plays. Finishing some scripts I’d already started. Tackling new work.
Then things slowed down – but I had a good reason. Other writing work – read non-playwrighting – crowded in. Some was paying work. Some was pro bono and was important work. But as a playwright, I wasn’t performing at the level I wanted. Still, I muscled through and pushed on. It was a just a short detour.
Then life happened. Because of family issues, I needed to step away for a few days. After all, I couldn’t concentrate very well. And I couldn’t sit at my computer for sustained periods of time. And it was only for a few days until things settled down and I figured out how to cope. Those few days turned into weeks. Which turned into months.
Friends would ask how the writing was going. At first I said fine and talked about breakthroughs or new ideas that had happened weeks ago. Then I started to feel pressure. Then I got annoyed at the question. And then I started avoided writing friends who I was sure could see right through me.
I begged off on one post in the thick of things – when I really couldn’t focus well enough to write a post. That one truly was justifiable. But then came time for the next post. And that is where the pathetic reason kicked in
I couldn’t write a post because I wasn’t writing plays. I felt like a poser.
When we cease to write, at what point do we cease to be a writer?
My first child died 23 years ago. And I remember the struggle to finally put voice to my biggest question, my biggest fear. Was I still a parent? To this day, I can hear the voice of my minister – who unknown to me at the time – had also buried his first child. There was a long pause. He cleared his throat and said in a voice that was strong yet also trembling as he tried to hold back his own emotion. “You are a parent. And you have a child. Your child just doesn’t live with you any more.”
I am a writer. I have had work produced all over the United States. I have won awards. I have cashed royalty checks. I say this not to brag – but to remind myself. I am a writer. I just – at this very moment – am not actually putting words on paper.
When my son died, I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head for a little while. But through the years, I have watched friends who did not have that luxury. They had other children who needed them. They had responsibilities.
And, now, so do I. I have scripts that are lonely. That are tired of sitting in a drawer – or more accurately as a string of bytes in a file on my computer. They are begging me to come back and play. And for the first time in a while, I am hearing them calling me to throw off the covers, get out of bed and give them some attention.
So I am. Maybe not every day. Maybe not as much as I would like. And maybe the words aren’t even all that great. But I am sitting in front of my computer again. My fingers are flying over the keys. Letters are appearing on a blank document.
We are writers, yes. But we are also children and parents and spouses and significant others and friends and neighbors.
Our work is important. But so is getting someone to the doctor. Or wiping away someone’s tears. Or listening to someone’s anger fill the room.
Sometimes, life is going to divert our attention. Sometimes demand our attention. Sometimes it completely overwhelms us. But regardless, it’s still a lousy reason to completely stop putting pen to paper.
Be kind to yourself. Sometimes the quantity and quality don’t matter – the act of writing does.
Be hard on yourself. The act of writing always matters – even if the quantity and quality have to take a back seat.
But write. Regardless. Because we are writers. No matter what, we are still writers.