What are you willing to sacrifice for your writing?
This is one of those questions I get
all the damn time often. What are you willing to sacrifice to get the work done?
This past week I visited the home of Eugene O’Neill. O’Neill was, by all standards, an accomplished, brilliant, and original artist. A leader in his field. Winner of 4 Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize. A success. And yet, he sacrificed much personally in service to his art. When we were touring his home, the curator explained how that the dining room was purposefully small because this wasn’t a house for entertaining. The guest room had it’s own entrance so guests — including his visiting children — could come and go without disturbing him. Mr. O’Neill had distant relationships with his sons, Eugene Jr. and Shane, both of whom committed suicide as adults. He disowned his only daughter, Oona, when she married Charlie Chaplin at age 18, and he never spoke to her again. O’Neill isolated himself completely in order to write. He sacrificed.
Visiting Eugene O’Neill’s home this week brought up the question again. I don’t know what, if anything, I’m really willing to sacrifice. My children? My husband? My friendships? My health? This morning I had coffee with my husband, made pancakes and eggs for breakfast, and then walked the dogs, rode my bike, and spent my entire morning outside. It’s 70 and sunny here. There’s a cool breeze blowing through the trees. Damned if I was going to hole up, on a Sunday no less, and spend the day at my desk “going inward.” My writing can wait until tomorrow.
What does this mean?
almost daily sometimes wonder if I have the temperament or pedigree to be a writer. There are those standard things you hear about writers, and I know I don’t fit. I haven’t, for instance, dreamed of being a writer all my life. I’m not a recluse. I haven’t abandoned my children or my family for my “art.” I don’t take any meds beyond a boatload of vitamins. I spend time with, and keep up with, friends. I’m not an alcoholic or drug addict. Hell, I don’t even smoke. I loved my mother. I enjoy a number of frivolous, non-artistic things, like sports and serial TV shows and bad movies and exercise. I’m generally cheerful, happy even. I’m always, always, on time. I love rules, find comfort in rules, and would, in fact, consider myself an inveterate rule follower. What respectable artist follows rules??
I could go on, but you get the point. There’s not a thing on that list that screams “Writer.”
And yet, I write.
Do you ever wonder if you’re sacrificing enough, if you have what it takes?