Monday, May 18, 2009

The Care and Feeding of Writers

blog45 Writing can be a very isolating activity.  Actually, it’s the perfect activity for an introvert (which most writers are by nature.)

But most writers don’t just define themselves by their writing.  They’re also sons and daughters who may have a role in the care of their parents, employees, caregivers of small or older children, and volunteers.

And yet we still have to spend time wracking our brains, delving into our emotions, and creating something exciting on a blank word processing screen. So we’re just a wee bit busy. 

Usually, I put myself at the bottom of the list of things I need to take care of for the day.  This isn’t something I do on purpose, but it’s just sort of how the chips fall.  This is what I’m looking at for today:  Sheets need to be changed, upstairs badly needs dusting, cat fur everywhere that needs vacuuming, oh gosh—we’re out of eggs, the car needs an oil change, the garage is a wreck, the children need to rest up for the EOG testing, blogs and writing goals need to be met, oh…and I need to maybe look decent and possibly even wear makeup today.  Because I might be going to an ice cream party for Brownie scout leaders, if I can get there.

I think my husband and son are classic enablers.  My husband says things every day like: “You always look nice” or “That color looks great on you” or “Wow, you’re aging well.”  My middle school son says “You’re the prettiest mom I know.”

But then there’s my daughter—the truth-teller.  She squints as she looks at me and winces.   “Did you wear that shirt two days ago?”  “But it’s clean,” I say.  “But you have a pretty dress in the closet.  Why don’t you put it on?”  Hmm.  And “Mama.  Don’t you ever wear lipstick anymore?”  And “Mama.  You’re not going out in that?”  

That may sound awful, but really, she’s looking out for me.  It’s a reminder that I need to show myself a little respect and TLC or what can I expect from everybody else?

This isn’t limited to personal appearance, although that’s probably the most obvious indicator of where we’ve put ourselves on our to-do list for the day. We also should eat well, exercise, drink water, and get plenty of sleep.  (The sleep thing probably won’t happen for me—major insomniac—but I can try to rack up a few more minutes at least.)

I wrote yesterday on Poe.  There’s an extreme example of someone who didn’t look out for himself.  But I think most of us could do a little better.  Maybe if we take better care of ourselves, our work will improve.  I think it’s worth a try.