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writing and the social life

May 4, 2014

which i’m sure i’ve written about on here before, but the older i become, somehow, the more pertinent this is. i think it’s because more and more of my friends are getting accolades – book deals, NMA noms, awards – and to be honest, that’s really wonderful and at the same time hard to hear about. in my undergrad, a teacher used the word ‘compersion’ to refer to the happiness we should feel for one another’s successes – i just looked that term up for the first time and realised that it’s a term that is used in polyamory, which is an interesting parallel. (“to be turned on by someone else’s pleasure”). i think the term can still apply to writing, but with less of a sexual aspect to it. to feel excited by someone else’s success, without the kickback, that double-edged sword that knocks out a little bit of yourself at the same time.

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anyway, the more time that passes, and the more time i spend trying to balance out my own life, the more i realise that the thing – for me – that will need to be cut back a little in order to make more time for writing is my social life. having always been an introvert, this was a logical one. there are all sorts of things to balance to have a ‘healthy’ life – sleep, work, working out (both heavy weights and yoga), grocery shopping, organizing, cleaning, reading, podcasts, decorating, laundry, food prep, appointments, intrapersonal reflection, interpersonal interaction, sex life, dating life, growing-up-friends life (weddings, engagement parties, stag and doe parties, bachelorette parties), quiet time. and, of course, writing. factor in the amazing amount of time people seem to spend on social media and curating their online persona (tumblr, vine, twitter, facebook, instagram, whatever other forms of social media there are now.) factor in work that runs over, take-home assignments, classes for self-improvement (pottery? poetry? night classes?). factor in therapy. factor in all the little things that take over and swell to jam up free time, and it’s no wonder that writing falls by the wayside. something’s got to give. as aretha sings – every chain has got a weak link.

that weak link, i think, for now, will turn out to be my social life.

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this is hard to explain to people. people, naturally, get offended when you can’t see them – or, as they see it, don’t want it. but that’s not it. it’s not that i don’t want to. it’s just that the faster i become independent and the older i get, the more i see a future i which i’ve been relegated to getting little pieces published here and there in magazines that don’t pay the rent, and spending the rest of my time being caught up in the travails of day to day life, and that’s not particularly a future vision that pleases me.

i don’t know how to say “i can’t see you, i have to write.” there were only a few places and times in my life when that excuse ever worked – when living in vancouver amongst the other harried, crazy writers, and during my writing residency at banff. banff was especially fantastic, because 1) there was really no place to go at night, so i would be in bed fairly early and often up before sunrise, and 2) i was surrounded by not just other writers but also sculptors, painters, photographers, composers, musicians, who all understood the sentence “i really can’t tonight, but have fun without me and i’ll see you at lunch tomorrow!”

the problem is guilt.

so call this a disclaimer, friends, for the next few months: i probably can’t. it doesn’t mean i don’t like you; it doesn’t mean you don’t rank high on the list of people who mean something to me; just know that my writing is curling up, crumpling, because i haven’t been able to sit down (working nights means only two nights off a week, which hinders the process a bit) and really have it out. people mean so much to me, but writing is what i do (have a degree for; what i do at work; what makes me money beyond my salary; what i freelance in, both editing and writing; and what i was paid a grant for and now need to finish up).

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