Giving Up

Maybe it is time for me to give up on writing a book.

I can relate to my great-great-grandmother-in-law, in how she must have felt before she kicked the stool out of the way and hung herself.

She had been asked to do the arrangements for a wedding – a big task, yes, but by itself not death-worthy. It was, however, the final rock to send her over the edge of a stress mountain.

I often think of that scenario when I find myself in positions of having too much to do and too little time to do it efficiently and effectively. There are demands being made of me by others who COULD be helping, compounded by the frustration I feel from the expectations of others who don’t really know me but who think I SHOULD be doing more.

The thing about people expecting me to do more is particularly irksome, but I can control it, to some degree, by avoiding contact with them.

What I am talking about is the writing of my supposed book.

I say “supposed”, because although it has been looming over my head for the past few years, it still has not materialized. I have pages of notes and a few chapter drafts, but no complete manuscript.

I am at a point where I am wondering if I should just give it up.

“You have such a talent for writing and an important story to tell,” they say.

That sounds like a compliment on the surface, but the way it lands on my ears is more like a sledge-hammer to the side of my head.

Really? More? I am supposed to do MORE?

I have seven children. That is not common or easy. Few people can I consult for advice and even fewer are willing to help.

I never set out to have a large family, but that is what happened. Whether people can accept it or not, my kids are my number one priority.

Even sitting here on my couch writing this blog entry on my laptop is a luxury, but the kids are all occupied at the moment, none of them asking me questions, none of them asking me for help, none of them trying to tell me something, and so I am taking this quiet time to write out the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days.

(No sooner did I finish that paragraph than one of my kids ran up to me to remind me that they left their iPad charger at someone’s house a 25 minute drive away. So I sent a text to find out if the road is decent enough to drive there to pick it up. Yeah, this time of year, where I live, snow and ice can make roads dangerous.)

And I can see someone saying I should have taken this time to work on my book instead of venting on WordPress.

No, this here is quick and mindless.

Like sudden vomiting.

Working on my book, however, requires deep thought, more akin to preparing a gourmet meal on a wood cook stove. Ingredients must be bought and measured. Careful attention must be given to the fire. And nobody can interrupt me, lest I miscalculate a measure, miss an important ingredient, or burn the results.

I deactivated my Facebook account. That thing depresses me. A huge pile of potential communicators who are supposedly friends, but most of them just want a quick fix. I can understand that, to a degree, because I myself am usually too busy to get into much depth, but still it discourages me to post a question or a thought and have very little feedback. Like, why bother? Might as well write on WordPress, where it is more to be expected that there will be little to no intercommunication.

And that leads me back to the topic of writing my supposed book. How satisfying will it be to complete a book, and not know what others are thinking or feeling when they read it?

But how can I write that book if my focus is on my children’s needs?

And with my own ability to concentrate being poor at best (two of my kids have ADHD, and two are diagnosed as being in the Autism Spectrum – surely they got some of that from me, though I have no such official diagnoses – and, yes, I did undergo testing), I can only work on a book when everyone is asleep or out.

I even built a shed in hopes I could write in it, but my kids interrupt me in there, too. The thing is, though: they need me more than the book needs to be written.

Oh yeah, and I failed to mention that my youngest three children are almost always home. We homeschool. It’s more in the direction of unschooling, but still, my point is that they aren’t away for several hours a day. And don’t try to convince me otherwise. I have long been against public schooling and so this is my choice.

And I haven’t even touched on the chronic pain with which I live. There is no cure. All I can do is suffer through it. Some days are better than others, and on those days, I get a lot more physical tasks done.

I don’t really want to hang myself, because I think of how it would affect my children. But the pressure sure becomes a lot sometimes, and where can I go to escape it?

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3 thoughts on “Giving Up

  1. I know this is an old entry, and though I did read it the first time–well, I don’t even know how long ago–I’ve read it again and just felt like encouraging you to write at your leisure, and don’t let anybody dictate rules about that–not even you.
    I’d suggest sitting down to write as often as you get the time, but notice that all I said was sit down to write–I didn’t say actually write necessarily, nor create an obligation to write and then feel lousy if nothing happens.
    I’ve received that same advice (with more detail) and it’s the closest thing I’ve done to being something enjoyable and productive. Notice again, that I didn’t say it was enjoyable and productive–just the closest thing to it that I’ve tried.
    It’s enjoyable more often than not, though.
    It’s also enjoyable more often than it’s productive, and that’s an important piece to ponder, should you desire to do so.
    One hint I can give you is that when I sit down at my desk, I’m not creating a law to follow; about accomplishment of any kind. I’ve learned that that never is a positive experience and rarely if ever produces anything, positive or not.
    But what I do, instead, is first, enjoy a tiny little pocket of order–or quiet, as it’s commonly known. It usually takes a while for my brain to reach a state that I can call quiet. But when it does I just give myself license to enjoy it.
    With God.
    Praying and writing are not things I separate very often.
    Then I just decide that I’ll write or I won’t.
    I ask God, but I don’t strain.
    I just enjoy a moment with him, and I let it go where it goes, and if I happen upon some part of that time that maybe could be written down, then I start.
    Without expectations.
    That’s the important part.
    Peace is vital to the process, therefore laws and expectations are antithetical to it.
    Since you do have a specific project in mind, maybe you can still just write whatever comes to you, and stay loose, and maybe you wander into your project, or maybe what you write spontaneously turns out to form an unexpected element of the main project? Or maybe it jars a memory loose that’s relevant to it, or maybe it inspires something unexpected… who knows? Not us, so why form expectations? It ruins the enjoyment, and it stifles creativity. It may never have anything to do with the book you’ve planned, but it may stand on its own as something you and others value for decades to come, and yet more, it may form the basis of a main project that you hadn’t previously even considered. But there’s only one way to find out what it’s going to be….
    Prayer for me is a great way to enter the writing process, and writing is a great way to enjoy God. So I combine them, and I trust him to lead the proceedings. And when I approach it that way, it’s much more peaceful and much more enjoyable, and more often fruitful–and in more than just one way. And if something is not enjoyable, and there’s no gun to your head, it’s not worth doing–in large part because the fruit (product) won’t be as good as it will be if it were an immersive, transporting experience for you, to create it.
    Well, that’s my opinion, anyway.
    Maybe you’re already doing this but lack the time to engage in such pronounced dissociation, or maybe you’re a different enough personality type that it’s not your thing (although I highly doubt that, from knowing you to whatever extent I do!).
    Maybe, however, there’s some use you can make of something or other I’ve said–that’s what I hope, anyway–but either way, I pray you find time, inspiration, and most of all, enjoyment, in the desire and effort to produce, and in the process itself.
    Can’t go wrong if ya pray for someone, no matter the quality of your advice! ☺
    PS I apologize for the disjointedness and rambling, but I didn’t prepare and I didn’t edit. I rarely do in contexts like this–though folks may occasionally wish I had done! 😄

    • Thank you immensely, bro! I want to put all of that in a fancy calligraphy font, underlining a few points, and print it out to stick on my desk as a reminder and encouragement.

  2. Pingback: Encouragement for Writing | Holy Sheepdip!

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