Monday, March 18, 2013

The Price of Following the Muse

Back in the 90's I spent a lot of my free time with friends. Those were more carefree days and lots of fun but I did this at the cost of not writing. I could have been working on the stories that I am completing now. I had many of the ideas I am now writing about. But I chose to be social and enjoyed myself.

That changed when my father died in 1995. After that friends got married, began families, moved away. That's all perfectly fine, of course. That's life. I found myself doing less social things and filled my time with other things. I met my wife and bought a house because I too am not immune from life and the changes it brings.

More recently, say 2009, I began to make conscious decisions to pursue my creative writing in a way I had not before. That took some doing. I had to back out of several commitments, in some case volunteer work I had done for years, and close down a small web site consulting business I had started. I also had to isolate myself so I would have the time to write without distraction. This is still true. I need large blocks of time that I can dedicate to writing. That means if writing isn't your regular job that you spend much time alone, apart, and staring into the soft glow of your computer's screen.

I'm not regretting those decisions. I made them consciously. I decided it was time to tip the balance back toward the one part of my life I had ignored for so long. So I shut down other parts of my life to do it because there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything -- at least not for me.

But the price of that is I am less social -- far less social -- and I miss my friends some of whom I've not seen in many years, of course that has more to do with the fact that they moved away than any decision I made. And I suppose this highlights the fact that I prize friendships greatly because I am slow to make friends and once make one I like to keep them like a favorite sweater. But that's not always possible for lots of reasons.

I tell myself that this is the price of pursuing my art. That a writer -- or any artist -- needs time to make his or her art. And that's true. But it is also an excuse. If I wanted to I could make the effort to connect with others. And I do that now and again. But the truth is no one makes the effort to connect with me either. Friendship, like so many things, is a two-way street and now that I am busy with all the writing and promotion and editing and revision and publishing of my stories, lots of other things are taking a backseat. And so if others will not make the effort I guess I'm going to be very lonely.

What a shame. Because I could easily put my writing aside for a few hours for any friend who wanted to reconnect. But the sad part is they won't because they are busy too. But they are also scared I think, afraid to offend or be rejected or waste time if I am suddenly too busy for them. But that as I said isn't the case.

So this is the part I pay for remaking my life. Is it a high pay to pay? Ask me again in a few years; I may be able to answer that question then.

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