Living Isn’t a Waste of Writing Time

Last week, one of my friends shared with me her worries about finding enough time to write, now that she is visiting her children all over California and even out of state.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said. “I absolutely love spending time with them. I just worry about the waste of writing time.”

“Living isn’t a waste of writing time,” I said instinctively, wanting to reassure her.

Later, I thought about what I said, hoping I had been right.

Exactly a month ago I posted about my own writing doubts. Halfway through the draft of a new manuscript, I was stuck. I questioned the point of the story. Before long I convinced myself that I would never finish it.

The post triggered some encouraging and practical comments.

Writers and artists shared their own moments of doubt and a few suggested a break, sometimes necessary to rekindle the desire to finish a project.

Why not? I thought. What’s the point of sitting in front of a screen for no satisfaction?

I hit the pause button and didn’t work on the story at all. Instead I blogged more often, especially in French, something I had done less regularly than in English. I visited more blogs, liked more posts, commented on more posts, followed more blogs.

I also read a lot. Although I found many books so well written and compelling that they fed my anxiety – how would I ever write something so good? – I enjoyed the abandon and read for the sheer pleasure of the story.

I had coffee with friends. I watched movies. I listened to music. I walked. I cooked. I baked. I gardened.

I lived.

A few weeks passed, and one morning as I scanned my inbox I noticed that my novel Trapped in Paris had received additional reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Then from her Summerhouse Sherri nominated me for the Seven Awards.

I had just posted about not deserving special treatment. My reward for blogging is when you stop by to visit.

Yet these small, nice gestures were powerful, as small, nice gestures always are.

In my case these reviews and awards nominations kicked me.

That very same day I returned to my new story and wrote an entire chapter. At night I shut down my computer with anticipation for tomorrow.

Later I thought of my attempt to reassure my friend. I had been right after all.

Living isn’t a waste of writing time.

A few of you already knew that art feeds on life and that taking a break is okay.

I owe you a thank you.

The tree below has bloomed – it seems to me – overnight, right after the first real rainstorm of the season, here in California.

On March 1, I find it to be a perfect symbol of the upcoming spring, the season of renewal and hope.


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