Originally uploaded by clintnosleep
Last night I went to see the movie “Inception.” One of the ideas in the film was about planting a seed in someone’s unconscious so that it grows and takes over. This morning I felt like such a seed had somehow gotten planted in my mind. The seed was, “Your health and fitness have gotten in the way of your writing life.” Which may or may not be true. Maybe I’ve just made certain choices this past year.
But this morning I felt like an all-out war was going on inside my head. It literally took my breath away, the incredible degree of anger and venom between the various parts of me.
So as you all know, I run this annual camp every summer during which time I put everything else in my life aside. It’s just all consuming. But I have especially had to put aside my writing life, which most of the past 15 years has been very very important to me. Last year, after camp, I did not “go back” to my writing because the writing had been laid aside so I could focus on my health.
This year, though, the writing has been pressing its face to the glass, wondering, When is it MY TURN? I ran into one of my best writing friends this week and we made a mutual commitment to write 20 pages a week. I was so excited. Here, finally! So this morning I got up. The whole day stretched in front of me. I wanted to write. But I also wanted to go for a long walk. And I felt like whichever one cam first would sort of dictate the rest of the day. If I put the walk off, it might never happen. If I put the writing off, I’d get distracted. Which one was going to get those clean, prime morning hours?
As it turned out, neither and both. I felt like a screaming, knock-down, hairpulling, knife-wielding fight was going on inside my head. I felt paralyzed and as if I couldn’t do either. Finally, I went off on my walk, but I was MAD about it. Believe me, this is not a good way to do exercise.
WM (Writing Me) was yelling at HM (Healthy Me). I can’t believe you’re getting away with it! Again!!!!!!!!!! All year I’ve stepped aside so YOU could get all the spare time. And you take up every freaking minute. If you’re not going for a walk, you’re writing on that stupid blog (and NO, that does NOT COUNT as “writing!”). Or you’re going to Weight Watchers. Or taking pictures of food. There’s never any time for meeeeeeeeeeeee any more!
(me. In shock. In between)
Now I’m mad at Healthy Me. I’m sobbing. I’m outraged. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I’ve freaking GIVEN UP for you?!?!? I’m feeling betrayed by myself. I’m feeling so angry. I’m feeling like I somehow got tricked into the illusion that This Is All There Is. While meanwhile, my books have been languishing, unwritten. All my computer will do is blog. My novel(s) are dead. My collection of short stories, dead. Nonfiction book: dead.
The realization of this just killed me. I sobbed and wailed and yelled at my husband (who was coming down off the trail and gave me a nice compliment). I tried to articulate for him what was going on and he said something to the effect (I am paraphrasing) that of course my health has to come first. Which made me fly even MORE into a frenzy. I took off up the hill, sobbing even more.
Long walk. Two hours. (in which I had to convince myself that I was doing this walk to THINK, not for the purposes of EXERCISE so that WM would not throw HM off a nearby cliff.)
It just so happens that when I was deep in my Writing Self, I didn’t give a crap about my health. Or exercise. My writing was everything. It took a lot of time, and attention, and energy.
So when my Healthy Self came along, Writing Self had to go on the back burner for a long time. And was fairly patient about it for a long time. But the time has apparently come for that patience to RUN OUT and Writing Self wants my time and energy and attention back. In a big way. Problem is, I now have a bunch of jobs, even though one is not as intense as it has been. I am still going to have to divvy it up.
And I’m just exhausted. I feel like I cannot parse out every single minute of my free time. I need time to do NOTHING, too. (aka the Nothing Self)
The walk was good. It calmed me down. It wore me out. During the walk, my older girl called me. It was so good to talk to her. I will be seeing her in a few weeks for my birthday, and I can’t wait. She understood the post-camp letdown, the exhaustion, the just being so tired you want to cry all the time.
I don’t know that it is an impossible thing, to have these two things that mean so very much to me. I can’t figure it out right now. But I think it was good to realize how important they both are.
August 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm
I think part of the whole Healthy Self thing is finding balance between all aspects of life, like balance between food, friends, alcohol, indulgence, play time, fun time, AND WORK.
The all or nothing approach can’t last because life isn’t like that. We have other commitments. I will have school coming up, and that will have to fit in with my training for my marathon.
Don’t beat yourself up and just realize that YOU = both Healthy AND Writing self. You need a bit of both to actually be Foodie McBody 🙂
August 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm
…I think you may have to give up camp, Sweetie. I think you *can* exercise and write, just like you are able to be a mom and write. Exercise is amazing to my writing (the less I exercise, the less inspired I feel as a writer), and you *will* find that balance. You may not be able to exercise as much as you did when you were committed fulltime, but you will find what you need to do and when to do it. The two shall meet.
It is agonizing when you feel 2 parts of your life can’t meet (I have experienced this, except that writing and exercise weren’t at odds–it was “the good girl my parents wanted me to be” vs “the girl i really was” and it took a long time to integrate). But you can totally do it! If you can lose all that frickin’ weight, change your lifestyle, become a WW leader and keep the weight off..then you can figure out how to do both! 🙂 You have made HUGE achievements. Reward yourself.
Maybe it’s time to apply to a writing colony…? Hedgebrook is taking alumni apps. Deadlines for most writing colonies are not too far off….
August 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm
err… I can’t really think about giving up camp the week after camp. (I’m wayyyyy too attached/riding the high right now) But I do think my work will be less next year. I just have to figure out a way to find a way. The middle way.
August 1, 2010 at 11:30 pm
Sorry bout the timing! I just know that every year, camp spins you way out of balance and every year you say you are going to lessen your commitment! 🙂
August 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm
I know. AND I do think it (less work) will happen next year. I have the world’s most awesome assistant who just went through her first camp, and I think she will be able to do a lot more next year, now that she’s experienced it.
August 2, 2010 at 1:45 am
but–you’re also not alone. today, i just sat and cried for an hour because i really felt i wasn’t good enough. i felt i hadn’t achieved anything i’d set out to do with my life and had fallen way short of any goals and i felt so entirely empty because i spent the morning at the zoo, surrounded by families with children and it was horrifying for me. i felt entirely worthless and ugly. maybe it’s in the air. maybe we’re exhausted. take care of yourself.
August 2, 2010 at 6:13 am
Ive been thinking about this since we tweeted.
trying to capture HOW I keep the fitness and writing together as for me I NEED both pieces at once.
August 2, 2010 at 9:17 am
I’ve read this several times and have had a bunch of different thoughts. Then I decided to sleep on it 🙂
I denied my “writing self” until just about 18 months ago. The toll it took on me was huge…by denying that self I felt empty and broken. And I spent a lot of time trying to fill and fix myself, not knowing what the problem was. In recent history I dieted and exercised a lot and lost significant weight. And as you know, I regained some of it. And then I stopped denying my writing self. So much has opened to me as a result. My other selves…my healthy self, my fitness self, my wife self, my stepmother self, my daughter self, my sister self (you get the picture)…are all functioning better…it’s like I’ve become a whole person finally.
I sense some fear around writing for you…sort of like your writing self and your fitness self can’t coexist and you’re afraid that if you allow your writing self too much time and attention, you’ll lose your fitness self. And we all know what that means, right?? Don’t operate from a place of fear and desperation.
August 2, 2010 at 10:56 am
I hear the pain but I also envy you your passions. You are a high energy, high functioning person with an abundance of interests, obligations and accomplishments. To me your life is full and meaningful and beautiful. Whatever the conflict, those tears were a way to healing and reconcilation.
August 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Ugh Susan I am so sorry you are going thorugh this right now. I don’t understand why there is not a manual on how to balance it all. WHY?!!! You HAVE to write and I know you already know this but you have to find a balance so that both can be done. You will find it I know so be open to ideas and suggestions. Sometimes when we let it all go the answers come and they seem so simple.
Maybe sit down and write 10-14 blog posts ahead so it free’s up some writting time for you. Try to seperate them a little. Mon-tues blog then 2-3 days writting and with it all make sure your fitness gets in. Your walks are wonderful times to think about what you want to write or blog about.
You will figure it out. I love ya!
August 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Hmm. I hope you find some way to make a balance between these two important parts of you. Theoretically, living healthy shouldn’t be something that precludes doing anything else in your life. Have you tried ‘writing’ by recording yourself, then you could do that while you walk. It’s not as good as typing..i know think and type faster than I talk, but I dunno it seemed like an idea. What books have you written? Writing seems like it is part of healthy living, because it’s healthy for your brain. But, I think no one obviously can give you advice except yourself.
August 3, 2010 at 12:05 am
I’m sorry you and you are fighting! I miss my writing self too. I convinced myself last year to do NaNoWriMo, and with work and holidays and half marathon training along with the writing, by the middle of the month I just threw temper tantrums.
I’m slooooowly working on a novel, but I’ve realized that it needs to be at a much slower pace. I have work and workouts that are first priority, but I also need to have chill time and friends time. The little that I have left – well, I just have to make sure I’m not wasting it…
August 3, 2010 at 1:15 am
Oh Quix, I’ve done NanoWriMo three times now, and have TWO novels that are 80% done. It’s maddening. I need time to go over them slowly, edit and revise and FINISH. It was exhilarating to do those adrenaline-rush events, but if I want something quality, I need to put in more quality time. Sigh…
August 3, 2010 at 1:32 am
I love you, Foodie!
August 11, 2010 at 1:17 pm
Thank you for this post. I feel like I could have written it.
I put Creative Me on the back burner when I decided to concentrate on Healthy Me. And it’s really hard to find a balance to accommodate both. Sometimes, neither get the attention they deserve because I’m busy figuring out which one is more important.
If we’re not Healthy though, we won’t have the energy for the other stuff. I’m sure you will find a way to keep both in your life since they are both so important to you. Maybe it’s time to write that book about the journey to Healthy You. It would be a good read. 🙂 And then the blog posts could be counted toward Writing You!