I’m sorry not to write lately. I haven’t wanted to write much of anything.
I’ve evidently got a heart condition – who knew? I’ve felt breathless most of my life, but I’ve been a bit extra breathless lately. Then I phoned my doctor to say I had some chest pain and the next thing I knew I was in the back of an ambulance. I have angina…and on Monday I’ll find out if it’s take-a-few-tablets angina or open-heart-surgery angina or something in between. They told me the finding out procedure kills one in 1000 people who have it. It starts heart attacks in 20 more. And in some, it causes strokes.
I’m waiting for this procedure. I’m also waiting to find out if Editor O’ My Dreams likes my latest manuscript.
I hate waiting. I’ve already died once, in a car accident when I was fourteen. I constantly feel time ticking away. And Monday seems to be rushing towards me.
So I started wondering – do I really want to spend the time in between writing?
And then I wondered: Do I really want to spend the rest of my life writing at all? My writing life isolates me. To fund it, I work in a stressful environment (doing what I love, teaching other writers, but in the increasingly competitive academy). To really succeed at the combination of them both, it’s not enough to write well enough to be published. I must try and write world-class, award-winning fiction. The whole thing really is quite stressful – I haven’t had that big break-through book and might never have it. It means my place in the academy and in publishing is always uncertain. The whole thing can’t be good for me or my heart.
After all, I don’t just live for me – I have an eleven-year old child and a husband and an elderly mother. It might be actually selfish to keep writing.
Since I had time to think, I’ve thought. I’ve thought about the great relief it would be just to live – to go to work and come home and make dinner. To see my friends lots and keep my house nice and have parties…to GO to parties. And then I thought the parties I really want to go to are usually other writers’ book launches. And that I’ll still be reading. And that I doubt very much if I could actually stop writing altogether.
Then I went to breakfast with a friend who talked about one of my books with such fondness that it made me cry. And I read a few fan letters. And I read this article from Science. And I thought some more, about why I really write and how if it helps just one person, just a little bit, it will all have been worth it.
My life will all have been worth it.
So I started writing again.