“I’m not a writer. I’m not a writer,” I would tell myself more often in the past few years. The truth was, “I’m not writing.”
Giving birth to and caring for my daughter took more energy and time than I had ever imagined. She was one might call a “high needs baby“. Now that the trauma of her birth and her first few days have faded, I can joke about how the hospital kept us for an extra day to ensure we would survive at home without the staff and volunteers who would take turns holding and entertaining her. I was told that they hadn’t before seen a baby born with so much “personality”. (I suspect the word was really “obstinate”.)
I love that she has been telling us since Day Zero what she wants, but why does what she want have to be so different than every other babies’ wants?!
Anyway, after a couple of years, I started to sleep most of the way through the night. I could eat a full meal without having to hide from a child who possesses incredible smelling and hearing. (The truth is, she’s really a dragon. She had fangs and fighting instincts to prove it.) My daughter learned to talk (in a language we could understand, thank you very much, Miss Have-to-Make-Up-My-Own) enough to explain why she would cry until she stopped breathing.
My life started to settle into a new mode of normal.
The problem was normality no longer included writing.
When the urge hit hard to hide away with a pen and notebook, I would think, Writing is selfish. It takes time away from higher priorities. Yeah, priorities. Family, the small business I maintain with my husband, working, paying bills, keeping house. All that fun stuff. Writing was about as high as vacations (whatever those are).
What about if it made money for my family? Could I justify it? But…I avoid sharing my stories with others. My writing is selfish.
I thought, I won’t write much. Eventually, the urges will go away. The characters will go silent, and I can figure out ways to prevent other people’s stories from inspiring new ones. Someday, I won’t pick apart everything I see for potential story material.
Except nothing changed. Years I tried! I even attempted to give up reading, so that I wouldn’t want to respond to new ideas. That backfired, of course.
What I realized was I don’t want to lose the part of myself that writes stories. The only version of me I love is the one who speaks through the written word.
I can’t like the me who doesn’t write. The person stumbling through each day, shoving down and tying up every craving to move words from the mind to the page– she felt like death. I’d been through that already as a child, when I would hide away my notebooks. Why did I think I could deny that part of myself forever? It was suicidal.
The person who leaves essays and poetry and stories and notes all over the place, who stumbles through plots and agonizes over the rhythm of a sentence, who arrogantly declares what’s right and wrong in a piece of art, and who scatters magic for a future me to find when I no longer remember creating the spell– I love that person.
That’s when I started to remember that my daughter was going to learn how to live life by watching me. What I did not want her to see someone who dragged herself through each day after trying to cut off a part of who she was.
So I have to write. Even if it kills some other part of me, I will write.
After all, there is always sacrifice for love.