Jun 8, 2009

It isn't easy being green

Envy. It gets hold of me more than I'd like. I always thought I'd be able to handle it better as I got older, but so far that hasn't happened. I guess I envisioned a point in my life when I wouldn't care what other people had or did. I'd be happy with myself. I'd be content with who I was and where I was in my own life (content does not mean stagnant, of course). But who was I kidding? Did I really think I'd ever not look at someone else's life and wish I had what they had? I don't know if I've ever met another person who hasn't done that. If you've never done that, please post a comment, because I'd really, really love to know your secret.

I was really hesitant to post this topic because it has to do with someone I know. Someone I sort of know...or someone I sort of knew. And then there's this other person who reads this blog on occasion who knows both of us and I know it would have been pretty obvious to her who I was talking about and I think it would have led to some awkwardness and embarrassment on my part. So I decided not to write this, but then I started to think about why I even started this blog over three years ago. It was a way for me to keep track of what was going on in my life. Even though I was putting this out there for other people to read if they wanted to, it was for me to write for myself. That's the worst part about a blog - censoring your own thoughts from yourself. Believe me, there are some things I would LOVE to write about, but I don't want everyone to know.

So here goes. For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. I don't exactly know how far back that goes, but I do recall a 6th grade poetry assignment when I had to read my poem in front of the class and a boy named Zachary Baker said to the class, "That's not a poem! It doesn't even rhyme!" I was mortified. My face grew hot and my lips quivered. Did poems have to rhyme? Why didn't I even think of that? The reason I hadn't thought of that was because THEY DON'T HAVE TO RHYME. That's when I realized that I was a damn good writer and Zachary was a complete dolt. Since then I've had a passion for writing (and apparently a passion for horrible cliches, but I digress). One of my goals in life is to write a novel. It doesn't have to ever be published. I just want to write one. OK, so I'd be a huge liar if I said I never fantasized about walking through Border's and seeing my book on one of the shelves - preferably not the clearance shelf.

So why the envy, you ask? The person I mentioned earlier has written a couple of novels. Big deal, right? It shouldn't be. But it is. She's younger (by about 10 years). She also works full-time and has a baby. So what's my problem? Why haven't I written a novel? Why don't I have the discipline that she does? I sit and stew about this all the time. Is Griffin more fussy than her baby? Does he sleep less than her baby? Do I lack the drive and the discipline? Is she a better writer? But then there's the flipside. I've never read anything she's written, so maybe her writing sucks. Maybe she can crank out so much writing at the expense of spending time with her family. Her baby isn't mobile yet and I can only think how things will change for her once she has to spend her time chasing a baby throughout the house. She also only has one child at home and doesn't understand the demands of having a baby and an older child who is in Little League and who has homework and school projects and summer camp and band. She doesn't suffer from debilitating migraines. She doesn't know what it's like to have a father-in-law who suddenly falls ill and passes away leaving behind a son who struggles to make sense of the loss of his dad and friend. She doesn't know what it's like to have to take care of the surviving mother-in-law, having her over for dinner and making sure she makes it to her doctors' appointments because it hasn't even been two years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  But maybe these are just excuses.

For the first time in a long time I feel motivated to write. I've got a great idea for a story and I've been fleshing out my characters and making a very basic outline for some scenes. It's slow going, but that's how things have to be right now. I want to do some writing this summer, some serious writing, because I need to take advantage of this burst of creativity and energy. But then I hear about this other person's successes, or even just the amount of work she's cranking out and I get so envious, and at times, I flat out get pissed off. I can't help comparing myself.

The only consolation I have is that for a writer, she continually misspells the word hilarious (she has a blog and I read it). Anyway, I guess  she finds a lot of stuff really funny. In fact, they're not just funny, they're downright "halarious." And I'm not afraid to admit that the envious and bitchy parts of me find that to be incredibly satisfying. Ahh...redemption.


Jason said...

On the other hand, maybe she's emphasizing how much things make her laugh by spelling it HA-larious. Wow, she's good.

It's funny--when I got back into writing by finally signing up for some courses after talking about it for years, in the first class I took (a general Creative Writing course), I was one of the oldest people in the class. Even the instructor was younger than me. There were times when I was asking myself, what was wrong with me that I wasted so much time not writing? And why was I trying to get back into it when my time was so dominated by family and job and everything else? Of course these other people have time, they're younger and some aren't even married and they have no cares in the world.

Then I got into the novel track, and the novel certificate program, and lo and behold, I'm now the youngest person in my class. And I don't think I'll be insulting my fellow class members by saying it's not even really that close--I'm BY FAR the youngest person in the class. So suddenly I feel like it's OK that I took so long to get back into this. And I'm not even the slowest writer in the group--I'm about middle of the pack (two are slower, two are faster, and one cranks stuff out quicker than me but does it even more sporadically than me, if you can believe that).

In the end, because you love it so much (and are damn good at it, by the way), you'll make the time to write. It'll be less time than some, but more time than many. And it'll feel frustrating, and defeating, and confounding, and fulfilling, and beautiful, and wonderful.

Tracy said...

It just makes me wonder what the heck I was doing when I was 27 years old...and then I realize I was writing my master's thesis and working and trying to mend a broken heart. I guess we all fall into writing when the time is right for us. Maybe the time is right for me now.

Jason said...

And now I'm wondering what I was doing at 27. Hmm...OK, that was 6 years ago. And Jonathan just turned 6. So that's what I was doing. :-)

specificallyspeaking said...

$60 a month for that wifi card--not total--if it was, I would justify that WANT in a heartbeat--but I have to realize it's not a NEED. Sigh. But I do want it...

Jason said...

This is probably a bad comment thread to admit that I'm envious of specificallyspeaking's comment, isn't it?

Tracy said...

Let it out, Jason. It's OK.