On Friendships and Writing and Existence

Monday, August 10, 2009

There's this girl I know. She's a writer--a pretty good one. I think she'll be published someday and she thinks so too, but I'm a pretty crummy friend to her. I don't do much to encourage her. She doesn't spend as much time writing as I wish she would, because there is always something to do that seems more important...like getting a real paying job. Or having coffee with that friend who really needs encouragement...or laundry, or dishes, or volunteering with non-profs, or taking children to the river, or cuddling with her husband. So while she's got all these things stirring inside of her that she wants to say, (and I think she could do a really good job of saying them) I, as her wise friend, discourage her from devoting her time to such. I tell her that the people are more important than her blog... (and yes...even the laundry and dishes aren't just chores, they really are acts of love and service to those little people). You agree don't you? The people are more important than the writing...right? I wish I had a good argument for her, because she seems sad and quiet to me lately. I know it's that she wants to write, has things she needs to say, and I'd sure like to hear them, but I'm a realist. If there's not time for it, there's just not time, right?

I visited a girlfriend in the valley this weekend. She told me that her mom has been diagnosed with a lung disease and given 3-5 years to live. I'm friends with her mom...and with her dad, and I don't know quite how to take the news. I haven't cried yet, but I might start now. Is that really how this thing goes? You grow up a pretty girl, fall in love with a funny and tender man, raise beautiful children, work at a little eyeglass shop until retirement and then one day your grown daughter is telling her friend that you only get 3-5 more years. And that family for whom you did all that laundry, took all those trips to the river, set aside all that writing time to cuddle with, will plan a funeral and cry some tears and then carry on without you. I can't quite grasp it. You know how they always say that on your death bed you won't be wishing you had spent more time in the office? Well, I'm sorta wondering this morning if that's wrong. What if I wish I had actually spent more time in the office, at the computer, taking the time to write some of these thoughts and ideas down? Because...that writer friend of mine who has all these things to say and no time to say them...she's me. (Of course you guessed that).

I was trying to put myself in Bonnie's place this morning and imagine what I would be doing and feeling about my remaining 3-5 years (years that will be riddled with coughing and oxygen deprivation). I would accept it for what it is, of course. My faith in the Almighty is not easily shaken, and I can feel a little of the inexpressible joy it would be to have a timeline, a sort of "date" very soon when I would get to see Him. So there's that. And I think it would be easy enough for me to settle into a joyful existence of being with friends and family, listening, loving, playing, immersing myself in just loving them, because I think that's sort of how I live my life already. But there's just this one thing...and it actually makes me sort of teary just thinking about it. I think I would feel a painful regret and sorrow over the things in my heart that I did not write down. What is that?

It's not that I think the things I have to say are so earth-shattering and profound. (That's actually the other part of the equation that keeps me from writing more--too many times I think I'm probably wrong, even if my argument is good). It's more that there is this girl in there...this "other" girl, and I don't honor her. I'm pretty crummy to her, but the truth is that she's better than me in most things (now I sound schizo). She's kinder, smarter, more loving and tender. She's much stronger and more opinionated and sassier and more humble than me too. There's this other girl that no one else knows (except for my dear husby...he likes her...), and while there are parts of me that will go on in my family and friends memories after my time is up, this girl will only ever exist or be remembered if she writes. She won't even exist until she writes. And if I were talking about anyone but myself, I'd give myself a shake and say, "stop being such a crummy friend to her. She deserves to be encouraged and honored and given time just like you'd do for anyone else in your life." But she's just me. And that makes it self-centered. And, like I said, this girl is SO much better than me...she's never self-centered.

Tell me dear reader. Who's right? The girl who knows that the people always come first or the one who thinks the writer should exist too?


Randy said...

Balance and support. You'll need both to get in more time. You probably get the balance thing--too much time blogging means ignoring your loved ones and chores. But too little means ignoring that writer, causing her more sadness.

Support comes from your loved ones. Given that writing is a passion for you, and that you show some talent for it, if you let your loved ones know you'd like to devote X amount of hours to it each week, I believe they'll be more supportive of you taking time away from them than you might think. In the acknowledgements of many books I've read, the author has stated how grateful they are to their family for allowing said author the time needed to write, and for the sacrifice the family made to do it.

Were you to get a "real" job, you'd be spending a LOT more time away from loved ones and chores. I don't think they would mind you spending 30-60 min. a day on writing for now. All of you need to treat it as an appointment or even a job, during which time mommy is unavailable. Keep at it long enough and it you may find it becoming your job one day.

Someone once said, "In the end, you will do what you want to do bad enough." I like to blog, but not enough to do it often. A writer HAS to write, can't help it.

Steve said...

Ohhhh, you definitely need to write more. I bet that husband of yours even wants you to write more cause he knows the joy it brings your heart. You are really good at it too. :-)

You can have both worlds, family time and writing time. Balance should help like Randy said. Maybe you should schedule it into your week, whether you 'feel' like it or not. At least you would have time set aside and maybe feel like you are getting more down on paper.

Jen said...

Thanks Dod! You're right. So I got up early today (well, sort of). It definitely has to be more like 2 hours because it takes at least 15 minutes to get the coffee flowing through the veins, and another 30 to get the ideas churning, but I wonder if I stay regular the thoughts and ideas might start coming quicker...and with a little less caffeine. lol.
Thanks for the comments guys. It's always so encouraging to know that someone's listening!
Oh, and Husband...I love you more than life.

Anonymous said...

...but isn't writing an extension of who you are??? I say, yes, yes, yes, - the world needs to hear what you have to say - God has gifted you with writing just like he has gifted others to paint. Paint with words dear Jen - be a good steward over your words - write them. Don't hide your gift of expression under a bushel - include it in your daily life! You owe it to yourself, your family and the world and yes the Lord who has given the gift to you with outheld hands saying will you take it and use it for my glory?
Love you more than the air I breathe! Mom!

Anonymous said...

Oh my sweet friend...reading your writings makes my heart sing and tears well up in my eyes..You are so truly blessed by the Lord with your words....I understand that loving your family is your number one priority, but please don't EVER stop with your words!!! You are an inspiration and I am so lucky to call you "Friend"
Julie Dumdei