by Jeanine DeHoney
I remember being at dinner with family and friends and the conversation turning to work.
That dreaded feeling came over me of whether this time I would have to shrink like a wallflower into the background or would I have to defend my work schedule as a writer…again.
Although it wasn’t as structured now that I was freelancing fulltime, writing was still full of as many ebbs and flows as when I was teaching twenty adorable and precocious preschoolers for over twenty years. Writing, like at my former workplace, was stressful one day, exhilarating the next, made me feel like throwing in the towel one day, and made me feel so passionate about what I did the next day I thought it was a lovefest I would never retire from.
But at times others didn’t know that.
"You’re so lucky you have all this free time to do nothing.” Or, “At least you don’t have to go to work like I do and deal with all this stress,” or “No wonder you can keep your house clean, cook a fantastic meal, spend hours at the library, attend that conference, etc., you have the time.”
And then there were those who thought there was a void in my life and lovingly suggested I fill my life with a myriad of activities because I had so much time on my hand.
Their words, words my husband always tells me not to be sensitive to or to ignore, weren’t meant to be a put down and didn’t come from a place of meanness. They just didn’t know, didn’t understand.
They didn’t know that writing, piecing together your thoughts like a jigsaw puzzle, editing, and doing more editing, is a laborious process. They didn’t know how you can never clock out like a regular nine to five job because as writers we can’t turn off our minds or creative energy like a water faucet even when we try or need to. And they didn’t quite understand how it is normal for us to see every situation intertwined with a story; be it a toddler using the Potty for the first time, buying a pair of red shoes, or protesting about gun violence or domestic violence or any type of despair in the world. We can’t let it dangle in front of us. We have to write about it.
There are never any “do nothing days” as a writer. After I finish my normal tasks, I can work for hours on end until I have a completed manuscript, one that meets my writing vision of making a reader’s heart swell with hope, faith and empowerment.
So do we writers need to defend our time to others? Not really. We know what we do. Our best retort is to just keep on writing.
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