I’m Trying To Write
I might as well be watching TV, because I’m treated just as if that is the case. They think I can hit pause while they ask me a question, solicit my opinion, show me something, or tell me the dryer’s done. After all, I can just hit play and go on with my writing after the interruption, right?
If I were still working a “real” job, my family and friends would think twice about interrupting my work. But they see my writing as just something I do for entertainment. It is certainly not what keeps a roof over our heads. It’s just writing. I can do it anytime. Meanwhile, people have a burning desire to know what’s for dinner.
Members of my extended family who know I write in the afternoons feel no compunctions about calling me then. I try not to be ugly. But when I just put together the best idea, sentence, conclusion, or whatever, it’s hard to be polite when someone calls and breezily says, “whatcha’ doing?” as if I might be bored and waiting for a call.
Don’t answer the phone, you say. Hah! With a grandson in high school, a daughter in jail, a pregnant niece, and elderly relatives who depend upon me, I can’t just ignore the phone. Caller ID doesn’t tell it all. Doctors offices call from numbers I don’t recognize, 10 or so teachers could use a cellphone to call me, one of the lifeline alerts could be calling, my husband’s latest lab result might be in, or my grandson’s counselor may call from unexpected numbers. So, even if I don’t answer it, my train of thought has been derailed as I wonder if it was some kind of emergency. Most times I answer it. I must answer it. My mother might have fallen, my grandson may be in trouble, they may be moving my daughter, etc.
I sit curled up on a sofa to write, and I can be caught punching the cushion with my fist to release my rage when the phone call is from someone who only wants to chitchat. I know I’m probably not going to write the next bestseller and make us all rich, but I’m following my life goal. When people let me, that is.
Why the hell cant someone “babysit” my phone while I’m writing, so I don’t have to worry that I’ll miss an important — maybe life or death — phone call? It ain’t happening. While I write, my household and most friends and relatives carry on as if it’s fine to interrupt me, because they think I’m just sitting at home, anyway.
Back when i had a “real job” if someone asked me to go somewhere with them, and I said, “sorry, I have to work,” that was the end of it. No one got mad. Try, as I have, telling them you have to write. Mostly you get either, “you can do that anytime” or a frosty, “fine then,”. One friend even said, “you can just tell me if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to make excuses.” Excuses! My writing is an excuse? Well, excuse me!
I know my husband secretly wishes I would stop writing long enough to cook dinner, do the wash, vacuum up the plentiful pet hair, or do something. But he could do those things himself if they’re that important to him, could he not? Sure he could. We’re both retired from our day jobs.
I’m right on course as far as my plans for my own life. I did demanding work as long as I was fit. It got much harder, physically and mentally as I aged. It was time to retire and pursue the next goal on my list — writing. And I mean writing seriously, for myself and hopefully for publication. I waited a long time to write while I contemplate my life.
I’m doing Pretty much exactly what I always planned to do. I wanted to write it in a big, old house, with space for my own room. And that’s where I now live and write.
If I can just get everyone to leave me the hell alone during the afternoon and late at night, I’ll find out if I’m really — as my English teachers always told me — a talented writer.
Maybe I’m not particularly gifted. Maybe I’m just not that good. But that’s what I want to find out now that I’ve fulfilled my other dreams. Only by writing will I be able to answer the question of whether I have anything worthwhile to say.
But I’m never going to find out if I can’t get the people around me to recognize this is my work and it’s work even more important to me than the “real” day jobs I’ve had.
Can they just give me space to do work I’ve waited years to do? Can they understand I’m dead serious about what I do in this chapter of my life?
If they love me, I believe they can surely find a way to adapt and give me space to live my dream.