Hello everyone today SJ Driscoll has volunteered to guest post on my blog. I hope you all enjoy her post. You can check out her blog here
Beyond the Page
by SJ Driscoll
What has been most useful for writing in my life? No one thing I ever learned from writing classes, that’s for sure. The most useful things were the four experiences that taught me my limits as a human being.
I found one limit while walking a bright-white hospital corridor at 3:30 a.m., waiting for a family member to die. He survived and is thriving, but that morning I discovered one real limit. There was nothing I could do to help.
I found another limit the night before I moved out of a house I thought I was going to live in for 30 years. The choice seemed to be to get out, go insane or kill myself. It occurred to me that keeping a house wasn’t as important as keeping my life and my ability to function. For me to want a house, there had to be a me to want it.
The other two experiences were training for and then walking the Honolulu Marathon, and sea kayaking.
The value of these experiences is that they’re so far removed from everyday life. Everyday life can be demanding, but not in the way of these experiences. Writing is also removed—way, way removed—from everyday life.
Now I know that writing is something I have control over, unlike my loved one’s cancer. My stories can’t be taken away, like my house was. I walked a marathon and was sad to get to the end, so I can finish a novel—or 26 novels. If I get tired five miles from my destination while paddling my kayak, there’s no cab to take me home, just like there’s no way I’m going to stop writing because of mental, physical or emotional discomfort.
If we stall on a project, maybe the problem has nothing to do with writing. Maybe it would be better to put the writing down for a while and train for a marathon. Think about how it would make you feel to experience something else that’s long-term and extremely challenging, something that’s also radically different from everyday life.
That way, when you go back to writing, it will be just another hurdle that you know you can overleap.