Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Chocolates

Do you enjoy reading? How about writing? Eating chocolates? Dumb questions, huh? We’re Avalon writers and readers so, of course, we love the written word. As for eating chocolates, well, that’s a given.

Unfortunately, these activities are sometimes connected by one thing - Guilt. Today, I want to say a few words about that feeling some of us have when we take ourselves away from our families and friends to write or to read. We all feel it, but should we?

How many of you work all week, then spend the entire weekend cleaning house, running children around, grocery shopping, entertaining – well, you get the picture. We do what is expected of us to maintain our role in society and in our families. Should we feel guilty if we choose to find a quiet place to lose ourselves in a book or to close the door to our office to write the stories that are floating around in our heads?

Because I’m a writer, I write. When I don’t write, I feel something is missing in my life. In the end I hope what I write will be published and will make my readers feel good as well. I’m a reader as well. Just like everyone else, I read for the enjoyment of losing myself in a story and to keep my creative muse happy, but just as important, I read to keep myself abreast of the publishing industry.

Should we feel guilty about shutting ourselves off in our rooms to do what we want or need to do? No. Do it. Writing takes concentration, organization, and unfortunately lots of time, but in the end it will make you a better member of your family because you’ve done something you need – and want - to do.

So where does chocolate come into this discussion? Reading, writing, and eating a yummy piece of chocolate sometimes produce the same feelings of guilt. Don’t let it happen. Do what you have to do, keep your family obligations fulfilled, but give yourself time to read and write as well, and while you’re at it, sneak a piece of that Easter candy you have stashed away.

My wish for you this Spring: That you will have guiltless hours to devote to the need to put your story on paper and for our readers to lose themselves in the imaginary worlds we produce.

Or, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this guilt. Help me out here. Do you feel this way as well?


sherrinda said...

Yes, Yes, and Yes...I love all three dearly!
I am a newbie writer and have really struggled lately with the time away from my family. I have a full time job, 3 kids still at home, and a house to maintain. So time holed up in my room with my laptop seems so incredibly indulgent to me. Maybe if/when I ever get published the time away will seem worth it, but now? Not so much...other than for the pure enjoyment of it all. Thanks for the encouragement to steal time away for myself! I needed that!

Sandy Cody said...

Thank you, thank you, Fran! I couldn't agree more with the importance of taking time to do something for myself when there are so many needs in the world. I no longer have children at home as Sherrinda does, but sometimes think (especially when the words don't come easily) I should be making soup for our church's food pantry instead of writing. Ultimamtely, though, I believe in the power of story to help people make sense of a crazy world and to give hope.

LaVerne St. George said...

Good thoughts, Fran. Guilt can be pretty useless unless it spurs you on to be a better person. I'd rather consider regret. Would I regret that I didn't get my story on paper? Would I regret that I didn't give myself some breathing space and then snapped at those close to me because I was too wound up? If you feel strongly about feeling guilt, perhaps you can permit yourself a set amount of time for the guilt, say 15 minutes. Sit with it, feel it, chastise yourself if you like. Then be done with it. There's a lot of life to live: supporting your family, serving others, taking care of yourself. Make sure you don't skip that last one! Thanks, Fran!

Debby Mayne said...

Interesting post, Fran! I remember feeling guilty when I took time away from my family to write, so when my children were younger, I didn't spend as much time on it. However, as the girls got older and more self-sufficient, I had more time to myself. Reading never made me feel guilty because I figured I was setting an example for my daughters. As for the chocolate, well, as long as I bought enough to share with the whole family, we could all indulge.

Christine Bush said...

This is a thought provoker, for sure. Through my writing life, there have been different stages, and some allowed more writing time and focus than others. But through it all, the fact remains, the commitment to writing and creative energy is important, and ultimately, when I do this, I have more to give in every facet of my life. Guilt is a waste of time, and we busy women have no time to waste! ha! Thanks, Fran.

Allison said...

Gee, Fran, I feel guilty when I'm not writing. Of course the yummy chocolate bit does make me feel very guilty. Perhaps I don't have a guilty feeling when I write because my husband has always encouraged me to spend the time at my computer to create my characters.

For those who don't have that support, ya, I could see where you'd feel guilty. I just very, very lucky/

Allison KNight

I.J. Parnham said...

Oops. I feel guilty when I don't write!

Cara Slaughter said...

Hi, Fran! Great blog. It's so hard not to feel guilty writing when I could/should be doing other things, but I'm trying to get over it. I think every writer feels the same way from time to time.

Sierra Donovan said...

Finding the time to juggle all the roles is the biggest hassle for me. In other words: "How can I write when my kitchen looks like THIS?!"

Elisabeth Rose said...

I wonder if it's a female thing, that perception that we're neglecting our families or others if we spend time on something we ourselves love or want to do that isn't regarded as 'work'?

At one of our RWAust conferences we all got a doorknob hanger thingy in our goodie bags that says in big bold letters

writer at work, dammit! (each word on a separate little coloured picture of a post-it note)Then under that it says:
Unless you're bleeding from an artery or we're in imminent danger from earthquake or flood, then you're on your own. Deal with it.

I bet lots of them are on hanging on doors all over Australia LOL

Zelda Benjamin said...

Writing on my laptop helps. I don't have to be locked away behind closed doors. I can move away from or into the middle of family chaos

Carol Hutchens said...

I feel guilty I ALLOWED excuses to keep me from writing over the years. Writing is what I've wanted to do as long as I can remember...but I delayed...paying job, family.

Don't put off your dreams.