I’ve always done too much. I died when I was 14 and, since then, I’ve tried to cram as much as I can into every day. I go for weeks, months, not getting enough sleep and then collapse into illness that goes to my throat and lungs. Every time I get an illness in my throat and lungs, I think it might be the one that will eventually carry me off. And so, once I’m well, I throw myself back into life with the same urgency.
That’s why I have not one, but four books on the go. It’s why I have several research interests. It’s why I grew my own vegetables, baked my own bread, have a dog and a cat, became a school governor and a children’s liturgist, external at three universities, etc, etc, etc.
But there are a lot of things I don’t do. I don’t go out much at night. Most writers either don’t go out much at night or don’t get up in the mornings. (There is no earthly use in scheduling a poetry class at nine a.m.)
I don’t do birthday and anniversaries, except for my very, very closest friends and family. I don’t iron. I don’t have beige carpets (in fact, I don’t have carpets at all – I have wooden floors). I don’t follow fashion. I don’t go shopping much. I don’t go to fairs or festivals (except literary ones when I’m working for the university or for myself).
Two writing friends recently admitted that they don’t even dust. I’m not quite that bad, yet.
I don’t watch television series. I don’t keep my nails painted. My skin care regime is skimpy and faulty and, when I’m working, I don’t even know what I’ve eaten…I just see the pile of plates when I’m done. I also don’t get to the hairdresser often enough – something regular readers of this blog will have noted.
I don’t see my friends as often as I should. I don’t write or Skype my cousins as often as I’d like. I don’t go to morning Mass, even though I theoretically could and actually would like to. I don’t pick my daughter up from school. I don’t take her, either. I don’t schedule her into a variety of activities (she has two dance classes a week). I don’t arrange a lot of playdates and sleepovers for her and I often forget when she’s due to do something special at school. I am the parent who is always late in with her permission slip and fee for the field trip.
Because I am writing a lot and reading a lot and I can’t do everything.
Writing is part of every aspect of my life. From the time my alarm goes off and whether or not I can walk the dog to if I can have another glass of wine and how much fervour I put into my goodnight kiss. To do this thing – which includes so many false starts and reworkings and blind alleys it’s an absolutely ridiculous eater of time – it has to be my life’s priority. To remain in a relationship with me requires patience and fortitude I myself do not possess. I am absurdly grateful for how much love there is in my life.
Those who love me, who truly love me, leave me alone to get on with it.
I wish I could show them how much I appreciate it. But you can’t do everything.