Sometimes when I’m lying awake at night, I play little ‘what-if’ games in which I present myself with a set of tough choices.
In one fictitious scenario, I ask myself if I would give up creative writing if my paycheck-earning job flat out demanded it?
If my marriage demanded it?
If my husband ever turned from the dinner table to announce, “I’ve had it. It’s the dang writing or me. Take your pick, Girl.”
Just what would my answer be?
Equally, what if some pet thief with a thing for black-and-white cats with a lot of attitude, were to hold me at knife point to say, “Give me your cat or your computer hard drive-oh, and throw in those writing journals, too.”
If this were to happen, which would I actually choose? My writing drafts or my cat?
(Yes, I keep backups of my documents on the Cloud, but play along with me here.)
Equally, if my siblings in Ireland every organized an intervention and sat me down to say: “Look, Sis. The fun’s over. Either you move home from that America of yours and quit that bloody writing, or we’ll permanently cut you off from our family?”
If they ever actually said that (they wouldn’t), what would I choose?
You get the point. In any life, there are parts of that life that we value more than others — things that we’d fight like the dickens to protect and keep.
For me, the problem with these imaginary Faustian choices is this: My mind can’t conceive of a life without some sort of writing.
Now, I could have a life without publications or bylines or book royalties or author fanfare, but I couldn’t have a life without writing. In many ways, things don’t really happen to me until I’ve recorded or worked them through on paper.
So after all these years, the writing is as much a part of my being as, say, my eye color and my hair.
The only thing more unimaginable would be having to quit reading. Oh, now, on this bright, sunny afternoon in Massachusetts, let’s not even try to go there.
What about you? What would you (or did you) sacrifice in order to keep or start a writing practice?
Originally published at http://www.ainegreaney.com.