World enough and time

A casual acquaintance once explained how she managed to have the time and resources to paint.

“Painting was my passion,” she said. “I was pretty good, too. Then I had kids, and with my family, my husband, my job, I didn’t paint for years. The kids are grown, I’m retired and my husband encourages me. He even built me a studio. So I paint.”

She shrugged and turned away. “But it’s all gone now.”

That was years ago. As I write this, I feel the same shudder as when she told me.

Yesterday I spent hours looking for contracts for a couple of old published stories. Instead, I found boxes—the kind that holds ten reams of paper—boxes full of my words. Finished and unfinished stories and novels, notes on stories and novels, notes on writing classes and techniques, charts, lists… As I came across each item, I remembered clearly how and when I worked on it. I remembered each idea.

Only a few ideas grew into completed stories and only a few of those stories were published. Why?

Here are a couple of possibilities:

My job’s one deadline after another and I resent carrying that over to my writing.

During my window of opportunity when my kids were little and I wasn’t working full time, my stories began to get published. Then life happened: family member’s serious illness, divorce, demanding new job, bought/lost house, two cross-country moves and more.

These feel more like excuses than reasons, though. Some people overcome much greater difficulties and succeed.

At least I haven’t given up. I’m close. Work and study have improved my writing tremendously.

I’m doing something wrong.

What are you doing right—or wrong?

By S.J. Driscoll

2 thoughts on “World enough and time

  1. janellemadigan

    I have found that the surest way to kill our creativity is to blame ourselves for not having created more art. I can be chugging along writing little bits here and there, making progress, even if it’s slow, but once I start to chastise myself for not writing more, it seems as though the inkwell has run dry. Whatever you do, don’t blame yourself for not writing more yesterday. Just carve out a space, however large or small, to write today.

    1. SJ Driscoll

      You’re right, Janelle. What I want to create or imagine I should create is always going to be more than I can create. Maybe the same imagination that leads me to write is also choking me. I never looked at it that way. Thanks.

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