I had a dream.
I dreamed that I didn’t have to be the starving writer. That I could have that well (enough) paid day-job, and write in the evenings. That I could work full-time and still be as dedicated – whether to writing this blog or writing my stories – as I was before the 8-hour-plus grind.
I’m sure you all will be shocked to hear that little dream crashed and burned within a week of starting my job. I came home exhausted, my neck muscles in a wreck, my poor eyes screaming their pleas to STAY AWAY from any screen for at least two hours, my fingers frozen. (The black circles and red-veined, bulging eyes are apparently the ‘new look’ for working masses everywhere.) And then a week passed, and out of sheer shame and self-hatred, I stayed away from this blog.
Every day that passed made it harder to step back in, because what was worse than not having a ready blog-post to put up? Being stale. My brain felt boring. Even my dreams were littered with excel spreadsheets and number grids. I kid you not: two nights ago, I couldn’t sleep because I had an Excel nightmare, in which I was hiding and unhiding columns, desperately trying to find the one titled “sleep”. I know. Embarrassing. My creativity, which for the past six months has drifted between a happy waterfall to a placid pond, was going through a serious drought. In other words, my creativity was Arizona. It was the Grand Canyon. No, it was the Sahara.
And then I watched this amazing video, sent to me by someone who has been the pinnacle of support for me in my writing journey so far:
That’s right. Neil Gaiman saves the day again. But this time, that wasn’t his purpose. He wasn’t writing to the writers. Those two minutes aren’t filled with inspirational words for young creators like you or me. In fact, he doesn’t say the word “writing” at all. Not once. In that brilliant video all he talks about is buttons. Yep. The little things that you use to make sure your shirt stays closed. Talk about dreary, right? WRONG. If you take two minutes (okay, two minutes and four seconds, you got me) out of your day (and you really should) to watch it, you’ll see exactly what I mean: that video is just plain fun. He’s teasing us. The joy he finds in writing is palpable, and it’s contagious. You can feed off that happiness, that excitement, and I certainly did. It reminded me that writing doesn’t have to be stressful or tear-worthy. It can and should be done even if it isn’t ‘serious’. And that the only person hindering me from going ahead and doing something about my desert of creativity was me. I was the stopper, and I decided in those two minutes that I was being utterly ridiculous, so I pulled it out…
…okay, that metaphor got away from me, but the point is, I forgave myself. I understood that because I was finding it difficult to set aside a full hour every day, I had chosen to stop writing completely. I understood that I was making the week that I hadn’t written as important and as unforgivable as abstaining for a year might be. And I understood that all that was very silly. And so I (finally) got back to my stories and started this post, both of which I’ve worked on in any time that I had – my ten minute breaks every four hours at work, my lunch break, or in that pocket between waking and dreaming while I’m already in bed. And I did it.
So, ha, working world. You didn’t break me. (Yet.)
A special thanks to all those who fear buttons, and to Neil Gaiman, who once accidentally switched the vowels of “Caroline”. Without all of you, that video would never have been possible, and I might’ve still been stuck in Excel-nightmare-world.
Okay, back to my spreadsheets.