If there’s one term I see and hear all too much within the writing community it’s this: “Writer’s write.”
If you ask me, it’s kind of stating the obvious and about as profound as a Kardashian’s latest Instagram post, yet it gets thrown around by writers to themselves and to each other like some Neolithic incantation.
Me writer. Must write.
Yeah, writers write. They also do a shit load of other things and you know the one thing that’s sure to make a writer feel really awesome when they’re in a period of not writing? Reading or hearing some (albeit well intentioned) form of this handy adage. Not.
I recently read an article about this notion of writing that was based around stealing time. The gist was, if you have a passion or a dream and you also have a job and other commitments, it’s your responsibility—duty almost—to do whatever you have to do, to sacrifice whatever you have to sacrifice in order to realise your dream. It basically said if you’re not making time for your passion then you don’t really care and you should just quit while you’re ahead—or not ahead as the case may be
I read it, and it really pissed me off. At the same time I could feel the words snaking their way into my mind the way smoke at a bonfire clings to your clothes because I don’t always find the time. Sometimes when I do find the time, I feel incredibly selfish because I know that time has been stolen from another part of my life. And at the same time, when I’m a writer who is not writing, I am miserable. I feel as though I am disappointing everyone who has encouraged me on this journey—not least of all my publishers who have rolled the dice on me and been kind and patient.
But more than any of that, I feel guilty.
Overwhelmingly and cripplingly guilty. So much so that if I did have the time to write, I would probably have psyched myself out so much that I wouldn’t be able to write if I tried.
Because I love being a writer in a way that is difficult to put into words. Which is ironic (maybe, I dunno, because I’ve never really fully grasped the concept and I was completely confused by Alanis Morrissett as a teen). But writing and being a writer is the thing I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl scrawling stories in lead pencil on the farm. I sometimes can’t believe that I actually get to do this. That I have gotten so lucky to have this opportunity.
But truth is, wanting and loving something doesn’t make it any less hard. Finding the time to practice and hone my craft is difficult. Some days—weeks and months if I’m honest—it’s plain impossible.
So I steal time for my words. Time from my family, my friends, myself—because who needs sleep right? I nick the time from my other job—that actually pays me and provides leave entitlements. I know I can’t be the only author who’s got a copy of their draft manuscript saved on the work PC.
What happens when there is nothing left to take? What happens when amongst all this, adulting when trying to find the time to perform the most basic self-care tasks like showering can at times feel like a big ask—following your dreams, no matter how important they are to you—is the first thing to go.
If I simply can’t find time for my writing does that mean I’ve failed? That I don’t want it enough? Am I less of a writer than my peers who are able to find the time? If I go a stretch without writing, does it mean I’m not a writer anymore?
Reality is, sometimes I don’t write. I go to work or take my kids ice skating or make a lounge out of car parts that I don’t need and barely fits in my house. Sometimes I don’t write because I just don’t feel like it. Mic drop.
But amongst the noise of online posts reinforcing the writers write motto I’ve learned that writing and being a writer isn’t some accreditation that I have to renew each year in order to exist. It’s not something that can be taken from me for failing to log the requisite amount of hours. It’s who I am, it belongs to me.
Anna Sewell only wrote one book in her lifetime (that we know of). Black Beauty was the book that ignited this flame inside me and I will take on anyone who dares suggest that Sewell wasn’t a writer for most of her lifetime.
Writers write. Sometimes they don’t. Get over it.
Alicia Tuckerman is a driving force for young LGBT voices within Australia. Raised in rural NSW before she left home at the age of sixteen, she accepted a position to study at the Hunter School of Performing Arts. Described as having an overactive imagination as a child, she recalls writing stories her entire life. Alicia attributes surviving her teenage years to the comfort, release and escape writing offered and she hopes to inspire the next generation of readers and writers to embrace their true passions. Alicia’s debut novel If I Tell You, explores the joys, triumphs and cruelties of modern day adolescence.