A week ago, I was plagued by the ghost of loneliness that threatened to creep into a weekend I planned to spend alone on a writing project.
The fear was real, to be sure, but I was forgetting one important thing:
That I had 100 percent support from my family (who I would be leaving behind) to do this, and that my loved ones were thinking of me the entire weekend.
Believe me, support is key when you plan a getaway with just yourself and your words.
Because it can be a terrifying process.
Doubts creep in: What if I can’t concentrate? What if I’m doing the wrong thing, choosing myself and my art over my family for two days? What if the muse fails to show?
What if, what if, what if.
The writing process is only intensified when your life revolves around your family. You find yourself embracing two fierce loves: that of your family, and that of your art. Betsy Andrews Etchart, in a recent blog post for Brevity, writes: “[I]t seems the only thing we love more than writing and parenting is talking about how to mix the two without blowing something up.”
I have been a wife for five-and-a-half years, a parent for just two-and-a-half. Demands change, transitions occur, and all the while we as artists and family lovers have to re-examine and re-adjust our rhythms, so that both our families and our art are being fed by us.
It’s a huge job.
And one that, sometimes, requires a little risk.
I took a risk last weekend, choosing my art over my family for a two-day getaway. I chose to give up a weekend with my husband and son, to return to a baby I started making before my son was even in the picture: my first book. I knew I would lose something in doing it: precious time with my family.
But I also hoped I would gain something. I hoped I could return home with a manuscript that was darn near ready to be sent to the publisher, a piece of work I felt tremendously good about, a masterpiece that danced.
I wrote in The Ghost of Loneliness that my husband and son would be “killing hours with each other” while I was away. He informed me when I returned that he took issue with that phrase.
“I wasn’t killing hours with my son,” he said. “I was having a lot of fun with him.”
That’s the kind of support that is vital in making your life as an artist work. When others believe in you, how much easier it is to believe in yourself. How much easier it is to spend time alone with your words, your creativity, and make something happen with them, when you know you are surrounded by 110 percent support.
Who’s got your back?
I took a risk last weekend, and it was scary at first. But I returned home with no regrets. Maybe it’s time for you to sink your teeth into something a little scary. It might just be a risk worth taking.